To help ensure the safety of its young people, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is asking all adults in the United States and Canada serving or interacting with children and youth to complete a new training course on preventing and responding to abuse.
The interactive course at protectingchildren.ChurchofJesusChrist.org is part of the Church’s ongoing effort to protect children and youth. The simply designed, colorfully illustrated training explains how adults can create a safe environment during lessons and activities and how to respond if they see, hear about or suspect abuse.
The Church has continually emphasized that “abuse cannot be tolerated in any form” (Handbook 1: Stake Presidents and Bishops 17.3.2). In addition, scriptures and prophetic teachings proclaim God’s love for all His children and emphasized the responsibility of leaders, parents, and members to protect His beloved children and youth (see Matthew 18:6, Ephesians 5:25, 28-29, and “The Family: A Proclamation to the World”).
“We take Jesus Christ’s teachings about children and youth very seriously,” said Sister Joy D Jones, Primary general president. “He welcomed them into His presence and gave stern warnings against abusing, bullying, or hurting them in any way. Jesus said of children, ‘of such is the kingdom of God’ (Mark 10:14). His deep concern for children and youth must continue to be our deep concern.”
“Jesus blessed and prayed for children ‘one by one’ ” (3 Nephi 17:14–25), Brother Stephen W. Owen, Young Men general president, said, quoting a Book of Mormon passage. “We, too, must do all in our power to bless and protect each child entrusted to our care. This online training is one important way we can help ensure our children have the loving parents and devoted leaders they deserve and need.”
According to materials recently released by the Church, all adults in the United States and Canada who work with children or youth are asked to complete the course and to renew the training every three years. The Church will send emails to individuals serving in affected callings.
Members currently serving in the following callings are asked to complete the training:
- Stake and district presidencies, bishoprics, and branch presidencies
- High councilors
- Stake, district, ward, and branch Primary, Young Women, Young Men, Sunday School, and Relief Society presidencies; elders quorum presidencies
- Secretaries, teachers, advisers, camp leaders, activity day leaders, music leaders, pianists, and others serving in positions in the Primary, Young Women, and Young Men organizations
- Teachers of youth Sunday School classes and seminary classes
Members subsequently called to any of the positions listed above are asked to complete the training after being sustained.
The training requires members to log in individually using their username and password so the completion of training may be recorded. A list of members who need to complete the training will be updated regularly in the Leader and Clerk Resources section of ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
“This is the first time that we have done training and had it be recorded and associated with a membership number,” said Alan Rogers, senior safety manager for the Church. Because members are asked to retake the training every three years, the associated membership number helps bishops see which members with callings that involve children and youth have not taken the training.
Members who have taken the training do not need to re-take it if their calling changes or if they move between wards within the three-year period. For example, someone who has taken the training as a youth leader and is released and called to work in the Primary doesn’t need to take the training again.
“The training is an opportunity to increase awareness and further spread the knowledge of important safety and protection concepts,” Rogers said. Parents and others are also welcome to take the training at any time to become better informed regarding the righteous protection of children. A login is required but anyone can sign up for a login on the Church’s website.
As a parent, former foster dad and seasoned youth and Scout leader, Steve Goodrich, a member from Wasilla, Alaska, feels that Church-sponsored youth activities based on love and respect are important for the spiritual growth and maturity of young people. It’s important for adults to learn to recognize signs of abuse and “do something . . . so that children do not have to suffer,” he said. “I am happy to see the Church bring attention to these social issues and make the efforts to protect children.”
During 2019, Young Men leaders serving in Scouting are still required to complete the Boy Scouts of America’s required 60-minute Youth Protection Training, in addition to the Church’s training.
The training is available initially in English and will eventually be released in other languages.