Church Provides Updated Guidelines for Preventing and Responding to Abuse
In a continuing effort to counsel leaders on how to prevent, identify, and respond to abuse, the First Presidency sent a letter and resource document March 26 to Church leaders in the United States and Canada.
The resource document includes an updated version of guidelines first issued in 2008 for how bishops and stake presidencies counsel victims of sexual abuse and how they conduct interviews with Church members. Four new important policy statements are:
- “At least two adults must be present on all Church-sponsored activities attended by youth or children.”
- “When a member of a stake presidency or bishopric or another assigned leader meets with a child, youth, or woman, he or she should ask a parent or another adult to be in an adjoining room, foyer, or hall. If the person being interviewed desires, another adult may be invited to participate in the interview. Leaders should avoid all circumstances that could be misunderstood.”
- “Members should never be encouraged to remain in a home or situation that is abusive or unsafe.”
- “Church leaders should never disregard a report of abuse or counsel a member not to report criminal activity to law enforcement personnel.”
The First Presidency letter instructs all priesthood and auxiliary leaders to review all of the guidelines and teach the policies and guidelines on preventing and responding to abuse to stake and ward councils “to ensure the safety and protection of children, youth, and adults.”