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Abuse prevention training now required for Latter-day Saint leaders of children and youth

Faith & Family

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Courtesy KSL

SALT LAKE CITY — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints launched a new abuse prevention training program for leaders and teachers of children and youth Friday morning.

“The scriptures contain many examples of the Savior’s love for His children. His church does not tolerate abuse of any kind,” a statement from the church reads. “As part of an ongoing effort to protect children and youth, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has launched an online training course for all adults who interact with children and youth in their church assignments.”

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The training is initially being launched in North America and will follow in other areas soon after.

Those who are given a church “calling,” or assignment, that requires them to work with youth or children must complete the course within one month of being assigned in those capacities.

This includes leaders of congregations like stake and district presidencies, bishoprics, branch presidencies and high councilors, as well as leaders, teachers and any others who work in any capacity with children and youth — even the pianist.

Each leader will log in with their own church account so the training is recorded, and local leaders will be automatically notified if the training is not completed within the allotted time. The training takes 30 minutes to complete and must be completed by those working with children and youth every three years.

RELATED: Former LDS bishop goes on hunger strike over ‘worthiness’ interviews with minors

Scouting leaders must still complete the required Boy Scouts of America’s Youth Protection training until the end of 2019, after which the church will no longer participate in the Scouts of America program.

Though not required, parents and others who wish to complete the training are encouraged to do so. The training is designed to “increase awareness, highlight policies and identify best practices for supervising and interacting with children and youth,” the church’s statement reads. “It also helps leaders know how to prevent and respond to abuse.”

As part of the training, the church reminds leaders that two responsible adults should always be present during church activities with children and youth and that leaders should “avoid extended one-on-one communication with children and youth.”

“We take Jesus Christ’s teachings about children and youth very seriously,” said Joy D. Jones, general president of the Primary, the church’s organization for children. “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.’ His deep concern for children and youth must continue to be our deep concern.”

RELATED: Former LDS bishop who opposed ‘sexually explicit interviews’ loses excommunication appeal

Family therapists and professionals from child protection organizations helped create the training, the church said.

The training can be found at ProtectingChildren.ChurchofJesusChrist.org.

The training’s launch comes about a year after former Latter-day Saint member Sam Young went on a hunger strike and organized protests to publicly oppose the way leaders in the church conducted interviews with children.

Leaders in the church, often bishops, will conduct interviews with youth to offer counsel and guidance and to assess worthiness for activities like baptism, entering the church’s temples or serving a mission.

The church specified its interview policy in March 2018 by saying that children and youth can bring an adult of their choosing to a bishop’s interview. In June, the church released a standardized set of questions for bishops to use in interviews with youth.

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