The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a plan outlining how it approaches child abuse.
Leaders in the Young Women organization of the LDS Church met Thursday, April 28, in Salt Lake City, Utah, with the goal to raise awareness of child abuse among church members, according to Mormon Newsroom.
“Protecting and nurturing children was a priority for Jesus Christ in his life, and it is a priority in his Church today,” according to Mormon Newsroom. “Even one case is one too many.”
The Church provides many resources to prevent abuse and to keep children safe, according to Mormon Newsroom.
“They’re doing everything they can and I think that’s a good thing,” said Matthew Huff, second counselor in the Rexburg YSA 4th Ward bishopric.
Huff said church leaders have provided resources and provided a way, but members are the ones who can prevent abuse locally.
“I’m pretty protective of my children,” Huff said. “I’m always going to be involved in what my children are involved in.”
Huff said every member has a duty to be involved and protect the children as the Savior would.
“This is putting more responsibility on us as friends and neighbors, if we see something, to not just brush it to the side or ignore it,” said Lizzie Woods, a senior studying early childhood and special education.
Woods said she likes the many resources the Church has provided to combat child abuse, like putting windows on the classroom doors in church buildings, making sure they have at least two adults at all times and interviewing adults thoroughly before they call them to work with the children.
“There is so much going into preventing it,” Woods said. “It’s better to be overly prepared than having to deal with the consequences of one person because that’s something that is going to impact a child’s life forever.”
Woods said she likes how the Church focuses on making sure victims know it is not their fault.
“A lot of times, the children will take that on themselves and think they did something wrong,” Woods said. “They continue to view it like it’s their fault, and that becomes normal for them.”
Elyse Puida, a senior studying child development, said children may suffer the effects of abuse their whole life if abused at a young age.
“Children are very vulnerable, and they are very trusting,” Puida said. “If you say hello to them, they instantly want to become your best friend.”
Puida said she served on a Primary Presidency for two years as the secretary and knows that abuse can seriously hurt children emotionally.
“Individuals who were abused young can get into a cycle of dating people that are abusers,” Puida said. “If a child is abused when they are young, they are more likely to be with someone who will abuse them when they are older.”
Woods said the abuse becomes more evident in their future relationships.
“They are more sexually active because that has been their experience, and it shapes how they view relationships,” Woods said.
Puida said that by adding a 24-hour professional hotline and by keeping a zero tolerance policy, it helps to fulfill the main purpose of the Primary.
“The Primary’s goal is to keep the children safe,” Puida said. “If something happens, we immediately have to be ready to take action.”
Victoria Standley, a sophomore studying biochemistry, said she is grateful for the Church’s efforts.
“The different programs they are coming out with provide a safe way for people to reach out and get help,” Standley said. “Abuse is hard to seek help for.”
Standley said the Church is doing the right thing.
“By making sure there is no doubt as to what abuse is and how to deal with it, we can help stop the problem,” Standley said.