In a series of press releases published on Mormon Newsroom, the LDS Church outlined in-depth its approach to preventing child abuse and described a meeting of Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, Young Women general president, with child abuse prevention advocates.
During this meeting, Sister Oscarson presented two donations, one $100,000 donation to Teresa Huizar, executive director of the National Children’s Alliance, and a $25,000 donation to Susanne Mitchell, director of the Children’s Justice Centers in Salt Lake County. Read more about these events in the stories below.
How the Church Approaches Abuse
As followers of Jesus Christ, we condemn, in the strongest terms, offending (harming) or abusing children. Child abuse is despicable and heinous. It is not just a social malady and a criminal act; it is absolutely forbidden by the commandments of God. Protecting and nurturing children was a priority for Jesus Christ in His life (see Matthew 18:1-6; 3 Nephi 17:11-23), and it is a priority in His Church today. No child should have to endure abuse. Even one case is one too many.
Our First Priority: Help the Victim, Stop Abuse
Child abuse is a matter the Church takes very, very seriously. When we learn of abuse, our first priority is to help the victim and stop the abuse. As society and the Church have increased in their awareness of this malady perpetuated by people in and out of the Church, the Church has made extensive efforts in the past several decades to build understanding among local Church leaders and provide resources to stop and prevent abuse, and to keep children safe. We are continually looking for ways to strengthen our proactive program to combat abuse and care for those whose lives have been harmed by this evil practice. As we see or learn of ways to more effectively decrease the potential for abuse, we implement them.
Victims Are Innocent
The Church’s constant efforts to prevent and stop child abuse reflect the Savior’s teachings to “help the one” (see Luke 15:4). A victim of child abuse is a real, living, child of a loving Heavenly Father. Every victim is a little boy or little girl who is suffering deeply. We must do everything we can to protect and love them. We urge our local leaders and members to reach out to victims, comfort and strengthen them, and help them understand that what happened was wrong, the experience was not their fault, and that it should never happen ever again.
Sister Oscarson Meets with Child Abuse Prevention Advocates
Child abuse prevention advocates met with the leader of the Young Women organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City Thursday, April 28, 2016, to mark National Child Abuse Prevention Month. The group met in the Relief Society Building on Temple Square.
“We feel very strongly about this issue and have tried to put resources in place that will address the needs of children who find themselves victim to [abuse],” said Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, Young Women general president, who oversees more than a half a million teenage girls ages 12–17 around the world. “It should never happen, but when it does, we hope we can provide the resources to help children heal.”
Sister Oscarson said the Church has put resources in place 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 put in place in the Church’s youth programs, including a requirement to have two leaders present during activities.