Church Releases Statement on Missionary Safety Survey
Contributed By Scott Taylor, Deseret News
In wanting to better understand the personal safety risks for its full-time missionaries, the Church’s Missionary Department is turning to its best possible source—the missionaries themselves.
Last weekend, the Church’s 62,000 young adult full-time missionaries throughout the world received a link to an online survey, asking them about their experiences regarding any past assaults, robberies, attacks, threats, sexual assaults, or sexual harassments during their day-to-day operations and in their assigned proselyting areas.
Not only were missionaries asked about their own experiences, they were asked if they had witnessed any such attacks or threats to others.
Missionary residences were also a part of the query, with questions on door locks, window coverings, smoke or fire alarms, CO monitors, and the general safety of the residential area.
“This survey is to help us better understand the day-to-day experiences and perceptions of missionaries around the world related to physical safety,” said Church spokesman Eric Hawkins.
The survey is anonymous as to the identity of each missionary participant. However, each missionary identifies his or her mission as well as the specific location of current and past areas of assignment.
If a missionary answers in the affirmative regarding witnessing or being the victim of an attack or a threat, follow-up questions continue with more detailed and specific information regarding the instances and the threats.
“The data from this survey will help us identify areas or circumstances where missionary safety may be at the greatest risk,” Hawkins said. “We intend to use the results to review and modify, as needed, missionary safety guidelines and instructions.”
Underscoring missionary safety as “of great importance to the Church” and that missionaries are taught principles to keep themselves safe, Hawkins said in areas where missionary safety may be at risk, “we may alter assignments or provide them with more specific guidelines to enhance their safety.”
The missionaries were asked to complete the survey as soon as possible during an upcoming preparation day, the one day a week when missionaries do shopping, cleaning, and laundry; submit a weekly report to their mission presidents; and take time to correspond with their parents, family, and friends.
Since most missions follow a pattern of having preparation days on Monday, the survey was emailed to missionaries last Saturday. Mission presidents were alerted a couple of days previous to that and were encouraged to help the missionaries be thorough, complete, and honest with their reports on safety experiences and perceptions.
“Missionaries are divinely watched over in the work they perform,” Hawkins said. “However, we believe it’s important to understand their circumstances and make appropriate adjustments when needed.”