While tens of thousands of people are coming into the Salt Lake Valley for this weekend’s General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, nearly a thousand people are calling on the church to make changes in how adult men interview youth.
The people attending the March For Children started their journey at Salt Lake City Hall, and ended at the LDS Church Office Building. They’re calling for two specific things.
“We’re calling for this. No one-on-one interviews. No sexually explicit questions, ever,” says Sam Young, organizer of the March.
Young says there is always a potential for abuse any time any adult has a closed-door meeting with a child. “The vast majority of our bishops are good men,” Young says. But he says there are cases where a local leader took advantage of the position of trust in which they were placed.
But, what happens if the parent is the abuser?
“If that child comes forward, and he’s being abused at home and he wants to talk about whatever the situation is and is uncomfortable with the parent, fine. Then, you ask the child, ‘Who else would you like to talk?’” Young says.
Just this week, the church leadership made changes to its interviewing policies, which would allow for another adult to be invited into the room. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued the following statement on Friday:
“We share a common concern for the safety and well-being of youth. We condemn any inappropriate behavior or abuse regardless of where and when it occurs. Local Church leaders are provided with instructions regarding youth interviews and are expected to review and follow them. A caring, responsible spiritual leader plays a significant role in the development of a young person by reinforcing the teaching of parents and offering spiritual guidance. We express gratitude for the thousands of volunteer Church leaders – men and women – who selflessly serve and mentor youth, individuals and families throughout the world. As with any practice in the Church, we continually look for ways to improve and adjust by following the Savior in meeting the needs of our members.”
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