Abuse is the neglect or mistreatment of others (such as a child or spouse, the elderly, the disabled, or anyone else) in such a way that causes physical, emotional, or sexual harm. The first responsibility of the Church in abuse cases is to help those who have been abused and to protect those who may be vulnerable to future abuse. Church leaders and members should be caring, compassionate, and sensitive when working with victims and their families.
In a letter dated March 26, 2018, the First Presidency of the Church encouraged Church leaders to reach out in love to assist those suffering from abuse:
“This global issue continues to be of great concern to us today. Our hearts and prayers go out to all those who are affected by this serious problem.
“To help ensure the safety and protection of children, youth, and adults, we ask that all priesthood and auxiliary leaders become familiar with existing Church policies and guidelines on preventing and responding to abuse” (First Presidency letter, Mar. 26, 2018).
Church leaders and members should fulfill all legal obligations to report abuse to civil authorities. No Church leader should ever dismiss a report of abuse or counsel a member not to report criminal activity. Bishops, branch presidents, and stake presidents should call the Church’s ecclesiastical help line immediately each time they learn of abuse for assistance in helping victims and meeting reporting requirements. Go to counselingresources.ChurchofJesusChrist.org for the help line number and more information.
Church leaders and members should also help victims, offenders, and their families connect with professional counseling or other community resources, where available. When working with offenders, priesthood leaders should help them repent, accept the full consequences of their actions, and cease their abusive behavior (see Isaiah 1:18; Mosiah 26:29–32; Doctrine and Covenants 64:7). This might also include connecting offenders with professional counselors or programs.
For Church leaders, please review the following video in a ward or stake council:
Community and Church Resources
(Some of the resources listed below are not created, maintained, or controlled by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While these materials are intended to serve as additional resources, the Church does not endorse any content that is not in keeping with its doctrines and teachings.)
For more information about how to help those affected by abuse, please consult the following materials:
- In Crisis? Talk Now.
- Counseling Resources
- Responding to Abuse: Instruction Outline for Stake and Ward Council Meetings
- What Happens When You Report Someone to Social Services, WeHaveKids.com
- Frequently Asked Questions (aacap.org)
- National Child Abuse Coalition: Prevent and Address Child Abuse