Latter-day Saints Recognized by National Children’s Alliance
Contributed By MormonNewsroom.org
“I think people find it very shocking that one in ten children in their lifetime will experience child abuse in some form by the time they reach age 18,” said Teresa Huizar, executive director of the National Children’s Alliance. “And for us, to think about the fact that there are more than 300,000 children that [come through] the door of a Children’s Advocacy Center or Children’s Justice Center every year is a shocking number.”
Huizar presented the alliance’s National Philanthropy Leadership Award to Sister Joy D. Jones, General President of the Primary, during a reception at the organization’s annual conference in Washington, D.C., Sunday, June 4.
“We are concerned about children all over the world, and we can’t do that alone,” said Sister Jones, who accepted the award on behalf of the Church for its efforts to protect children and assist victims of child abuse. The Primary represents more than 1 million children worldwide.
The National Children’s Alliance is affiliated with the Children’s Justice Center program in Utah.
“[The award] speaks volumes of the Church’s love for children,” said Sister Jones. “This is a delightful honor for the Church to receive this award, but our commitment continues. We have much work to do, and this is really only the beginning.”
For the past several years, The Church has provided assistance to child abuse prevention organizations, including the National Children’s Alliance. Huizar visited Temple Square last year and met with Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, Young Women General President, where she received a donation from the Church for the alliance. Sister Oscarson also presented a donation to Utah’s Children’s Justice Centers.
In April, Sister Jones and women leaders of the Church’s Relief Society, Young Women, and Primary organizations toured the South Valley Children’s Justice Center in West Jordan, Utah, and delivered a check for $120,000 for needed medical supplies for child abuse victims at eight Children’s Justice Center locations around the state. Two years ago, Church leaders visited the center in Salt Lake City and provided a donation to the Children’s Justice Centers in Utah.
“I think that faith communities have a unique opportunity to be at the forefront of protecting children because families and communities really listen to them and turn to them for support and guidance,” added Huizar.
Policies to safeguard children in the Church have been around for many years. The Church has resources to help children who have been abused, including a 24-hour hotline that can put leaders in touch with a counselor. Safeguards have also been implemented in the Church’s youth programs, including a requirement to have two leaders present during activities.
“When we heard the news that [the Church was] being acknowledged and the generosity and the partnership, it was professionally thrilling to see that connection made with the work that happens day in and day out, and then the commitment from a major religious organization,” said Tom King, executive director of the Massachusetts Children’s Alliance.
“It is an example that we can turn to,” continued King. “Although it sounds trite, we’d all love to be out of a job.”
Susanne Mitchell, director of the Salt Lake County Children’s Justice Center, was also honored at the National Children’s Alliance reception with the Horowitz-Barker Lifetime Achievement Award for her decades of leadership and service within the Children’s Justice Center movement.
“The need is greater than anyone realizes,” said Tracey Tabet, administrator of the Utah Children's Justice Center program, who nominated the Church for the award. “If you ask any child abuse professional, they will tell you that our caseloads just represent the tip of the iceberg because we know child abuse is a drastically underreported crime.”
Sister Joy D. Jones, Primary General President, speaks after accepting the National Philanthropy Leadership Award on behalf of the Church from the National Children’s Alliance in Washington, D.C., Sunday, June 4, 2017.
“It is an honor to join you this wonderful evening to celebrate the incredible work that you do each and every day to serve children and families across the nation affected by abuse,” said Sister Joy D. Jones, Primary General President, in Washington, D.C., Sunday, June 4, 2017.
Sister Joy D. Jones, Primary General President, and her husband, Robert Jones, attend the award ceremony for the National Children’s Alliance in Washington, D.C., Sunday, June 4, 2017.
Sister Joy D. Jones, Primary General President, speaks with guests participating in the National Children’s Alliance award ceremony in Washington, D.C., Sunday, June 4, 2017.
Sister Joy D. Jones, Primary General President, talks with Primary children in Washington, D.C., Sunday, June 4, 2017.