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Protecting Children and Youth
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Protecting Children and Youth

30 MINUTES

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Audio Transcript

Welcome to the Protecting Children and Youth training for teachers and leaders.

 
 

Audio Transcript

Welcome to the Protecting Children and Youth training for teachers and leaders.

This training is part of an overall effort to explain policies and best practices for supervising and interacting with children and youth. It also provides guidance for how to prevent and respond to abuse.

Not all aspects of abuse will be covered. At the end of the training, you will be provided with resources to help answer any additional questions you may have.

The terms children and youth will be used synonymously throughout this course.

 
 

Audio Transcript

Church activities and classes are opportunities for youth to feel the love of the Savior and the influence of the Holy Ghost. They need to feel safe and protected.

Remember the Savior's love and concern for children. Think about what you can do to protect the youth you serve from harm.


Watch this video narrated by President Boyd K. Packer about protecting youth.

Audio Transcript

The back windows of our home overlook a small flower garden and the woods, which border Little Cottonwood Creek. Every year, this ivy has been the nesting place for house finches. The nests in the vines are safe from the foxes and raccoons and cats that are about at night.

Then one day, there was a great commotion in the ivy. Not in 50 years that we have lived in that home had we seen anything like that before. We will not always be safe from the adversary’s influence, even within our own home. We need to protect our nestlings.

Audio Transcript

Throughout this training, you will be presented with scenarios to check your knowledge of Church policies and best practices for leading and teaching youth.

Audio Transcript

Sister Brimley is about to start her Sunday School class, and there is only one young woman present.

What should she do?

What should you do if there is only one youth in a class taught by one teacher?

Two Responsible Adults

“When adults are teaching children or youth in Church settings, at least two responsible adults should be present. The two adults could be two men, two women, or a married couple. Where it may not be practical to have at least two adults in a classroom, leaders should consider combining classes” (Handbook 2: Administering the Church, 11.8.8, ChurchofJesusChrist.org).

Audio Transcript

Please read the policy found in Handbook 2.

Strength in Numbers


As a general guideline, leaders and teachers should:

  • Avoid extended one-on-one conversations.
  • Use group communication such as text or email.
  • Involve and inform parents or guardians regularly.

 

Audio Transcript

In the Church, we are often asked to teach the gospel two by two. This means that there are usually at least three people present in any situation, which helps protect both youth and leaders.

As a leader of youth, you can avoid compromising situations by not having extended, one-on-one conversations with a youth or child and by using group communication where possible. Involve and inform parents or guardians regularly, especially when you are concerned about their child.

 
 

Audio Transcript

Church activities for youth can provide opportunities to strengthen participants, build testimonies, and foster unity and personal growth.

Take care to promote the physical, emotional, and spiritual safety of those participating. Your conduct and interactions should reflect Church standards and exemplify Christlike behavior.

Adult Supervision Policy

“At least two adult supervisors must be present at all Church-sponsored activities attended by children, youth, and young single adults. Additional adults may be needed depending on the size of the group, the skill level of the group (for activities requiring certain skills), anticipated environmental conditions, and the overall degree of challenge of the activity. Parents should be encouraged to help” (Handbook 2, 13.6.2).


“At least two adults must be present at all Church-sponsored activities attended by youth or children. To protect youth and children, leaders should always avoid one-on-one situations with a youth or a child unless the leader and young person are clearly visible to nearby adult leaders” (“Safety in Church Activities” [First Presidency letter, May 6, 2019], ChurchofJesusChrist.org).

Audio Transcript

For additional information about supervising children and youth activities, please read the policies contained in Handbook 2.

Audio Transcript

Brother Perez is at a Church campout with his son. They are about to go to sleep for the night when his son’s friend asks to join the two of them.

What should Brother Perez do?

If you are not the legal parent or guardian of a youth, under what circumstances are you allowed to stay in the same tent?

Overnight Activities Policy

“On Church-sponsored overnight activities, leaders arrange sleeping accommodations so that male and female participants do not sleep in immediate proximity to each other. Male and female leaders must have separate sleeping facilities. Married couples may share the same quarters if appropriate facilities are available.

“On Church-sponsored overnight activities, a child or youth may not stay in the same tent or room as an adult unless (1) the adult is his or her parent or guardian or (2) there are at least two adults in the tent or room who are the same gender as the children or youth.

“If adult leaders and children or youth share other overnight facilities, such as a cabin, there must be at least two adults in the facility, and they must be the same gender as the child or youth.

“All Church-sponsored overnight activities must include at least two adult leaders” (Handbook 2, 13.6.12).

Audio Transcript

For additional information about overnight activities, please read the policies contained in Handbook 2.

Audio Transcript

At a Primary activity, Sister Jackson notices another leader asking Jasmine, an 11-year-old girl, to get into her car. The leader explains that she needs help to retrieve some supplies and will only be gone for a few minutes.

What should Sister Jackson do?

What should you do at an activity or campout if another leader is planning to leave with one youth?

 

Audio Transcript

Inappropriate touching is a common type of sexual assault.

But how can you draw a clear distinction between acceptable and unacceptable touching? In some cases, it can be difficult.

Touching a child in a way that makes him or her uncomfortable or that is intended to sexually arouse is not acceptable.

 
 

Audio Transcript

Abuse can include the neglect or mistreatment of others in a way that causes physical, emotional, or sexual harm.

Abuse can also cause confusion, doubt, mistrust, fear, and other challenges.

Abuse is a violation of the laws of society and is in total opposition to the teachings of the Savior.

The Lord condemns abusive behavior in any form—physical, sexual, verbal, or emotional.

Types of Child Abuse

Different types of abuse can happen to people of all ages, and abusers can be old or young, male or female. Most often, a victim knows his or her abuser.

Here are some types of child abuse you should be aware of and help prevent.

Sexual

Sexual abuse is any interaction that involves touching or non-touching behaviors in which a person is used for the sexual gratification of another person without both people agreeing. Child sexual abuse is any sexual activity between a child (of any age) and an adult. Child sexual abuse can also include sexual conduct between a child and a youth, especially when the youth is older or is in a position of power, trust, or control. It also includes the viewing, creation, and distribution of child pornography as well as viewing pornography with a child.

Physical

Physical abuse refers to the intentional injury of a child, such as striking, kicking, beating, biting, or any other action that leads to physical pain or injury.

Neglect

Neglect is a failure to meet the child’s basic needs, such as not providing enough food, shelter, or basic supervision; necessary medical or mental health treatment; adequate education; or emotional comfort. It includes leaving a child for extended periods of time without adequate supervision or safety.

Emotional and Verbal

Emotional and verbal abuse is treating a child in a way that attacks his or her emotional development and sense of worth. Examples include constant faultfinding, belittling, rejection, and withholding of love, support, and guidance.

Teen Dating Violence

Abusive dating relationships can occur when one person tries to maintain power or control over another. This can include emotional, verbal, sexual, or physical abuse.
 
Different types of abuse can happen to people of all ages, and abusers can be old or young, male or female. Most often, a victim knows his or her abuser.

Here are some types of child abuse you should be aware of and help prevent.
 
Sexual abuse is any interaction that involves touching or non-touching behaviors in which a person is used for the sexual gratification of another person without both people agreeing. Child sexual abuse is any sexual activity between a child (of any age) and an adult. Child sexual abuse can also include sexual conduct between a child and a youth, especially when the youth is older or is in a position of power, trust, or control. It also includes the viewing, creation, and distribution of child pornography as well as viewing pornography with a child.
 
Physical abuse refers to the intentional injury of a child, such as striking, kicking, beating, biting, or any other action that leads to physical pain or injury.
 
Neglect is a failure to meet the child’s basic needs, such as not providing enough food, shelter, or basic supervision; necessary medical or mental health treatment; adequate education; or emotional comfort. It includes leaving a child for extended periods of time without adequate supervision or safety.
 
Emotional and verbal abuse is treating a child in a way that attacks his or her emotional development and sense of worth. Examples include constant faultfinding, belittling, rejection, and withholding of love, support, and guidance.
 
Abusive dating relationships can occur when one person tries to maintain power or control over another. This can include emotional, verbal, sexual, or physical abuse.

Responding to Abuse

Audio Transcript

Emma arrives at her Young Women activity with bruises on her face and arms. When her adviser, Sister Peterson, asks her what happened, she starts to cry and tells her that her mother hit her multiple times with a broom.

What should Sister Peterson do?

 

Your Responsibility to Act


Bishops and Stake Presidents
If you learn of abuse, contact the abuse help line about every situation in which a person may have been abused or neglected.

Other Leaders and Teachers
If you learn of abuse, you should immediately contact legal authorities. Also contact your bishop for counsel and direction.

Audio Transcript

Anyone who knows or has cause to believe that a child has been or is a victim of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse has a solemn responsibility to do something that can ensure protection for the child.

If you are a bishop or stake president in the United States or Canada, you should contact the abuse help line about every situation in which a person may have been abused or neglected. In other areas, bishops who learn of possible abuse should contact their stake presidents, who will seek guidance from the area office.

If you are NOT a bishop or stake president and you learn of abuse, you should immediately contact legal authorities. Also contact your bishop for counsel and direction.

Audio Transcript

At a week-long camp, Brother Chen notices that Brady, a young man, has withdrawn from the group. Brother Chen asks him if something is wrong. After some hesitation, Brady reveals that something inappropriate happened to him in the tent.

How should Brother Chen react?

How should you react when a youth tells you he or she has been subject to inappropriate behavior?

Behaviors

Leaders should be aware of additional behavior that is inappropriate or unacceptable. In some instances, this behavior may rise to the level of abuse.

Grooming

Grooming occurs when someone befriends or attempts to create an emotional attachment with a child with the intention of sexually abusing the child. Grooming behaviors can include giving gifts or favors, requests for time alone, talking about sexual topics, or showing pornography to or initiating physical contact with a child. Leaders should be suspicious of any extended one-on-one communications or contact between an adult and a child. Grooming can also occur over the internet and through a child’s mobile device.

Discipline

Children are helped and strengthened by appropriate and loving discipline. However, criticism or ridicule can undermine their confidence and feelings of self-worth and well-being. Positive discipline will help the child to learn right from wrong. Discipline such as hitting, spanking, or yelling can result in reportable abuse.

Coercion

Coercion can occur when a leader compels a child using religious language or authority to imply a spiritual obligation or duty, permission, sanction, punishment, justification, intimidation, or threat. This is contrary to the Savior’s teaching that individuals should lead “only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned” (Doctrine and Covenants 121:41).

Harassment

Harassment creates a hostile environment that can cause problems ranging from decreased participation in Church activities to thoughts of suicide. It can include derogatory comments, innuendo, violating personal space, looking at someone in a way that makes them uncomfortable, threatening, shoving, pushing, or commenting about private body parts.

Bullying

“Bullying is a form of aggressive behavior in which someone intentionally and repeatedly causes another person injury or discomfort. Bullying can take the form of physical contact, words, or more subtle actions” (American Psychological Association, apa.org/topics/bullying).

Hazing

Hazing can occur when a peer imposes an inappropriate or humiliating task on another peer as part of an initiation into a group.

Teasing

Teasing can be the subtlest form of bullying or harassment. Sometimes friends can joke with each other and poke fun, but if they are joking, then both people feel it is funny and no one feels hurt. It is not joking, though, if only the person doing the joking finds it funny.
 
Leaders should be aware of additional behavior that is inappropriate or unacceptable. In some instances, this behavior may rise to the level of abuse.
 
Grooming occurs when someone befriends or attempts to create an emotional attachment with a child with the intention of sexually abusing the child. Grooming behaviors can include giving gifts or favors, requests for time alone, talking about sexual topics, or showing pornography to or initiating physical contact with a child. Leaders should be suspicious of any extended one-on-one communications or contact between an adult and a child. Grooming can also occur over the internet and through a child’s mobile device.
 
Children are helped and strengthened by appropriate and loving discipline. However, criticism or ridicule can undermine their confidence and feelings of self-worth and well-being. Positive discipline will help the child to learn right from wrong. Discipline such as hitting, spanking, or yelling can result in reportable abuse.
 
Coercion can occur when a leader compels a child using religious language or authority to imply a spiritual obligation or duty, permission, sanction, punishment, justification, intimidation, or threat. This is contrary to the Savior’s teaching that individuals should lead “only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned” (Doctrine and Covenants 121:41).
 
Harassment creates a hostile environment that can cause problems ranging from decreased participation in Church activities to thoughts of suicide. It can include derogatory comments, innuendo, violating personal space, looking at someone in a way that makes them uncomfortable, threatening, shoving, pushing, or commenting about private body parts.
 
“Bullying is a form of aggressive behavior in which someone intentionally and repeatedly causes another person injury or discomfort. Bullying can take the form of physical contact, words, or more subtle actions” (American Psychological Association, apa.org/topics/bullying).
 
Hazing can occur when a peer imposes an inappropriate or humiliating task on another peer as part of an initiation into a group.
 
Teasing can be the subtlest form of bullying or harassment. Sometimes friends can joke with each other and poke fun, but if they are joking, then both people feel it is funny and no one feels hurt. It is not joking, though, if only the person doing the joking finds it funny.

Audio Transcript

Isabella, a young woman, tells her Beehive adviser, Sister Martinez, that some of the girls in the group have been constantly teasing her about her clothing and hairstyle even after she asked them to stop.

How should Sister Martinez react?

What should you do if there has been unacceptable or inappropriate behavior between two youth, such as bullying, coercion, or harassment?

 

You can help prevent inappropriate or unacceptable behavior by:

  • Providing adequate (at least two adults) and active supervision during activities.
  • Intervening when you see inappropriate behavior and possibly separating the youth involved.
  • Preventing photos of youth from being taken or shared without their permission.
  • Informing the youths’ parents (both offended and offender) and the bishop.

Audio Transcript

If you are aware of inappropriate or unacceptable behavior that is happening, you should immediately act to stop it.

 
 
 

Audio Transcript

You play an important role in protecting children and preventing abuse. Do not tolerate abuse in any form. Remember, the Savior warned, “Whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 18:6) .

Children who have been abused need kind, caring attention from inspired Church leaders, family members, and others who can help them overcome the destructive effects of abuse. They can gain peace by living the teachings of Jesus Christ. Abused members and their families should ask in faith for their Heavenly Father's help. His love and the healing powers of the Atonement of Jesus Christ will ease burdens and provide strength to overcome adversity.


Additional information can be found at protectingchildren.ChurchofJesusChrist.org


Click here for resources to help someone who has been abused or if you need further information about reporting abuse

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©2018 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Audio Transcript

Please visit protectingchildren.ChurchofJesusChrist.org for additional resources to help you identify, respond to, and report abuse.

If you or someone you know is a victim of abuse and needs further support and resources, contact your bishop.

If you are a bishop and learn about or suspect abuse, immediately call the Church’s abuse help line.

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