A new, updated version of the For the Strength of Youth booklet addresses specific issues, challenges and opportunities youth face today.
The booklet, currently available on youth.lds.org and featured on lds.org, will be mailed to English-speaking Church units in mid-January. Priesthood leaders will receive a copy of the booklet for each youth, ages 12 to 18, and for all priesthood and auxiliary leaders who work with the youth.
The booklet will be translated and printed into additional languages by April 2012.
"The Lord has high expectations for the youth of His Church," said Brother David L. Beck, Young Men general president. "He wants them to be a light to their peers and a positive influence in their families. He wants them to be worthy to give priesthood service and make temple covenants.
"To help them meet these expectations, He has given them the standards in For the Strength of Youth. Young men and young women who follow these standards will have the strength to withstand the influences of the world and the deceptions of the adversary. They will be a light to the world. Their example will influence others to come unto Christ."
The updated booklets includes:
The addition of current prophetic counsel in areas such as the wise use of technology, virtuous thoughts, dating, the importance of gender roles and preparation for the future.
Additional emphasis on following the guidance of the Spirit, keeping covenants and being worthy to attend the temple.
A new standard titled "Work and Self-Reliance."
The addition of emotional health to the newly titled section "Physical and Emotional Health."
Increased emphasis on doctrine in each section.
The addition of questions to invite further pondering and discussion.
"The standards have not changed, but times have changed," said Sister Elaine S. Dalton, Young Women general president. "For the Strength of Youth has been revised to address the issues youth face today; to teach them the doctrine behind the standards and the promised blessings of obedience."
Quoting President Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve, Sister Dalton added, "We do not set the standards, but we are commanded to teach them and maintain them."
She asked parents and leaders to teach youth continually and clearly about standards. "For the Strength of Youth is a critically essential tool for parents, leaders and youth to combat Satan as they strive to live faithfully in 'enemy territory,' " she said.
Brother Beck said Church leaders hope that the standards from For the Strength of Youth will be "thoroughly studied in our homes and in Church classes," and that the principles taught in them will reside in the hearts of the youth of the Church.
Sister Mary N. Cook, first counselor in the Young Women general presidency, said the updated booklet will be a "valuable resource" not only for our young men and young women, but also for leaders, parents and even grandparents. "A wonderful addition is the inclusion of relevant questions that will help parents and leaders initiate discussions and personal reflection on the part of our youth," she said.
Sister Cook added that the booklet includes "several scriptures helping youth discover the doctrinal foundation of each standard."
Brother Larry M. Gibson, first counselor in the Young Men general presidency, said the Lord's standards do not change, but a focus of understanding must be enhanced to fit the needs of each generation. "Over the last ten years, since the last version was provided, there have been some dramatic societal changes. Our youth need to understand how they can be a greater light and standard to their own family, the nation and the world."
One example is an addition to the section on Honesty, he said. "It now includes the importance of 'Integrity,' which is essential for Heavenly Father's children."
In addition, he said youth need to be prepared for the hard things they will face and know how to be self-reliant in all areas of their lives. "We are grateful for a new section titled 'Work and Self-Reliance.' "
Sister Ann M. Dibb, second counselor in the Young Women general presidency, said God knows and loves each of His children. "He knows us because He is the Father of our spirits," she said. "The existence of commandments and standards is an indicator that He loves us and cares about our happiness and progression. Our Heavenly Father is mindful of our mortal condition and the times in which we live. Commandments and standards, as taught by His servants, the prophets, protect us when many of the choices could harm, delay, or even destroy our happiness."
Brother Adrian Ochoa, second counselor in the Young Men general presidency, said the new booklet should be "analyzed thoroughly" by Latter-day Saint youth.
"Heavenly Father is so mindful of them," he said. "I see this as the equivalent of the Liahona for the youth at this time and age. The Liahona was the sphere with words that guided Lehi's family in righteousness in ancient days. I know without any doubt that if they carefully study and follow the precepts in For the Strength of Youth, they will be guided, protected and happy."
Sister Dalton said Church leaders rejoice in the courage of youth who are living the standards. "We notice you," she said to the youth. "We are amazed by you. We learn from you. We know you often have to stand alone, and you are persecuted as you make righteous choices — sometimes by those you count as friends. We join with our prophets who say, 'We have great confidence in you.' You are making a difference in your homes and with your friends. You are leading others through your example."