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First Presidency Sends Letter to Church Leaders About Preventing and Responding to Abuse

On Monday, the First Presidency released a letter to Church leaders about preventing and responding to abuse among members. 

"To help ensure the safety and protection of children, youth, and adults, we ask that all priesthood and auxiliary leaders become familiar with existing Church policies and guidelines on preventing and responding to abuse," the First Presidency wrote. "A revised statement of these policies is enclosed."

The revised statement "Preventing and Responding to Abuse" is an updated version of the guidelines first released in 2008, according to Mormon Newsroom

In the revised document, leaders are taught that abuse "in any form is sinful, tragic, and in total opposition to the teachings of the Savior." And "The Savior extends succor, healing, and strength to victims of abuse because of His infinite Atonement."

There is also a section dedicated to responding to abuse and guidelines for Church leaders to follow in cases of abuse. The guidelines include:

  • When abuse occurs, the first and immediate responsibility of Church leaders is to help those who have been abused and to protect vulnerable persons from future abuse. Members should never be encouraged to remain in a home or situation that is abusive or unsafe.
  • Church leaders and members should be caring, compassionate, and sensitive when working with victims and perpetrators and their families.
  • Church leaders should never disregard a report of abuse or counsel a member not to report criminal activity to law enforcement personnel.
  • Church leaders and members should fulfill all legal obligations to report abuse to civil authorities.
  • Priesthood leaders should help those who have committed abuse to repent and cease their abusive behavior (see Isaiah 1:18; Doctrine and Covenants 64:7).
  • Professional counseling may be helpful for the victims and perpetrators and their families. It is almost always advised in cases of serious abuse.

"We request that stake presidents and bishops once again review the attached with their stake and ward councils and teach this information as directed in the enclosure," the First Presidency wrote.

The letter will be shared with general authorities, area seventies, stake, mission, and district presidents as well as bishops and branch presidents.

Lead image from Mormon Newsroom
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