Viewpoint: Help Children Avoid Dangerous “Nuisances”

  • 4 May 2013

As parents and Church leaders, we should do our part to identify danger and protect the youth from the spiritual “nuisances” that attract them.

“During this time of your lives … hazards loom. … Never forget the safety of personal prayer and your determination to stand firm for truth and righteousness.”
—President Thomas S. Monson

“Attractive nuisance” is a legal concept in the United States that, in some situations, holds a landowner liable for injuries to children trespassing on private property because they are drawn to the property by something they cannot resist.

An abandoned car, a pile of lumber or sand, a trampoline, a pond or swimming pool, for example, may be so attractive to the child that he or she cannot stay away, according to legal standards.

Further, the law states that while putting up a sign to warn children of dangers on property might exempt the landowner from liability, it will not work in all situations.

Typically, according to “attractive nuisance” laws, the landowners must take affirmative steps to protect children.

The world today is filled with “attractive nuisances” that draw children away from the strait and narrow path and into situations that might be, not only physically, but also spiritually harmful to them. Satan has become a master at creating attractive nuisances that lure them into his territory.

President Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve, warned us during the Seminary Centennial Broadcast on January 22, 2012, that we are living behind enemy lines.

“You are growing up in enemy territory,” he told the youth of the Church. “When you become mature spiritually, you will understand how the adversary has infiltrated the world around you. He is in homes, entertainment, the media, language—everything around you. In most cases his presence is undetected.”

In fact, some of Satan’s tactics are so attractive that it seems many of the children of God may be unable to resist them.

“Young men, your fathers and grandfathers never faced the temptations that you face on a regular basis,” Elder Robert D. Hales said during the priesthood session of conference this April. “You are living in the last days. If your father wanted to get in trouble, he had to go searching for it. Not anymore! Today temptation finds you! Please remember that! Satan desires to have you. ... How will you resist his aggressive tactics?” (“Stand Strong in Holy Places”).

The answer is that youth today must be as Nephi of old—immovable.

We have been promised that “the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them” (1 Nephi 3:7).

Then, no matter how attractive Satan’s nuisances are, the youth of our day will have the power to resist them.

“During this time of your lives … hazards loom,” said President Thomas S. Monson during a BYU devotional on Sept. 12, 2000. “I speak of temptings of the evil one, following the wrong crowd, doing the wrong things and forgetting who you are and what God expects you to become. … Never forget the safety of personal prayer and your determination to stand firm for truth and righteousness.”

Recent changes to assist the youth reaffirm that Church leaders know they have the ability to avoid nuisances.

On October 15, 2004, Preach My Gospel was introduced to missionaries throughout the world. A significant deviation from the memorized lessons, this change allowed young men and young women to teach gospel principles in their own words through the guidance of the Holy Ghost.

In January 2010, the Church released a revised Personal Progress booklet, a redesigned Young Women medallion, and other tools intended to help young women grow in faith and testimony of their Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.

In April of that year a new Duty to God program was announced. This program encourages young men to learn, do, and teach.

In October of 2012 the missionary age was lowered for both young men and young women.

A First Presidency letter, issued a month later, encouraged the youth of the Church to take an active role in family history.

And finally, in January of this year, Church leaders implemented a new youth curriculum, again encouraging LDS youth to express their knowledge and testimony as they teach one another.

The 2013 Mutual theme for the youth of the Church is “Stand Ye in Holy Places, and Be Not Moved.”

Taken from Doctrine and Covenants 87:8, the theme is intended to give courage and direction to youth living in a challenging world.

During the October 2011 general conference, President Monson said that —“as the winds of change swirl around us and the moral fiber of society continues to disintegrate before our very eyes — it is more important than ever to stand in holy places.

“It may appear to you at times that those out in the world are having much more fun than you are,” he said. “Some of you may feel restricted by the code of conduct to which we in the Church adhere. My brothers and sisters, I declare to you, however, that there is nothing which can bring more joy into our lives or more peace to our souls than the Spirit which can come to us as we follow the Savior and keep the commandments” (“Stand in Holy Places”).

For landowners trying to protect themselves against “attractive nuisance” liability, many jurisdictions follow conditions found in the Restatement of Torts. Under those conditions, property owners must, among other things, know children are likely to trespass, that there is risk on the property, and that they did their part to eliminate the danger and protect the children.

As parents and Church leaders, we should also do our part to identify danger and protect the youth from the nuisances that attract them.

President Thomas S. Monson has said Latter-day Saint youth have the power to resist attractive nuisances. “Although there have always been challenges in the world, many of those which you face are unique to this time,” he said in the April 2009 general conference. “But you are some of our Heavenly Father’s strongest children, and He has saved you to come to the earth ‘for such a time as this’ (Esther 4:14). With His help, you will have the courage to face whatever comes.”