Over the past 18 months, the cause of Protect LDS Children (PLDSC) has been dedicated to protecting kids in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Also known as the Mormons. In 2019, we will take up the noble cause to protect EVERY child, regardless of religious affiliation.
Last year, we documented the dangers facing children in the Mormon church. Survivors shared thousands of stories of sexual abuse, both physical & psychological, overt and covert. Many of their narratives can be seen HERE and read HERE. Over and over, survivors also shared that our movement brought with it a great healing effect.
In the summer of 2017, I organized an initiative called Protect LDS Children. That’s the year I found out that my daughter was regularly subjected to sexually explicit interrogations from age 12 to 17. I raised her and my other 5 daughters in the Mormon Church. This happened to my sweet child behind closed doors, all alone with the bishop of my congregation.
I wish I could go back in time and protect my innocent 12 year old daughter. I can’t. But I can stand up and speak out for the protection of today’s children. Through PLDSC, I called on the Mormon Church to end the practice of one-on-one interviews and to eliminate sexual questions.
During 2018, Protect LDS Children carried out the following actions. Tens of thousands of supporters joined the cause.
- Created a petition that gathered over 23,000 signatures.
- Created a website to document accounts of how Mormon children had been harmed.
- Held a march and rally in Salt Lake City which drew 1,000 participants.
- Printed books containing stories of abuse and delivered them to Mormon leaders.
- Conducted a 23 day hunger strike accompanied by 23 nightly broadcasts.
- Garnered extensive local, national and international media attention.
All of this generated much needed awareness of the dangers that the Mormon interview practices pose to children. The Church responded with a minor, yet significant, policy change. Unfortunately, Mormon children are still at great risk.
Protect Every Child (PEC)
Our original goal was to protect Mormon children. During 2018 and early 2019, as scandal after scandal after scandal of child abuse continuously erupted, I realized that EVERY CHILD is at risk. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. Adults need to stand up and shout from the mountain tops that abuse of children must stop. No longer will we take it sitting down.
Rather than reading the horrors perpetrated on children and simply shaking our heads, it’s time that the whole of society flex its powerful muscles. We can’t prevent what happened in the past. We WILL protect our precious kids going forward.
Protect LDS Children has expanded its cause to Protect Every Child, regardless of religious affiliation. We will reach out and join forces with other organizations which also seek to safeguard our little ones. Child abuse is not just among the Mormons or the Catholics or the Baptists. It is everywhere.
In 2019, Protect Every Child will launch a series of actions to raise awareness to mountainous levels. Here is our four point plan.
Action 1: New Petition
Last year’s petition was directed at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This year’s new petition will call for all parents as well as all religions, denominations and youth serving organizations to Protect Every Child. The goal is to gather 50,000 signatures.
Action 2: Climb a Mountain, Save a Child
- Summit a mountain, a hill, a driveway or any point of prominence. Whether big or small.
- Unfurl a banner on that driveway or mountain top. Take a picture. Then share it everywhere.
- This year, hundreds of banners will be planted on pinnacles all around the world. The flags are not to be left behind. Rather, they are to be brought home for a subsequent action.
- A lovely carol is sung during the Christmas season–Go Tell It On A Mountain. If ever there was a message to shout from the mountain tops, this is it. PROTECT EVERY CHILD.
Action 3: 12 Days of Ascension–July 24 to August 4, 2019
Last summer, a 23 day hunger strike was conducted in the shadow of the Salt Lake Temple. This summer, we’ll return to Utah for 12 days, Not to fast…to climb. Peaks will be summitted around the valley. Others will climb mountains across the country. Banners will be unfurled for the entire world to see.
- Each evening, a temple-side-chat will be broadcast. Flags carried down from the mountain tops will be on display. Discussions will be held with survivors and supporters. Religious leaders will be invited to share their child safety practices.
- On the final day, a large gathering will be held, similar to last year’s amazing Samaritan’s party. Many described it as the most spiritual meeting they had ever attended.
- During last summer’s hunger strike, over 500,000 social media views were registered. This year we will raise that awareness to millions.
Action 4: The Children’s March!! Oct 5, 2019
Last spring, PLDSC held a rally and march in Salt Lake City. Its culmination was the delivery of the petition to the top Mormon leadership. Books were also presented that contained hundreds of stories of harm done behind closed doors.
It was a magical experience. Healing of childhood wounds. Awareness raised. A thousand people joined together in a common and noble cause. Giving voice to the voiceless. Standing up to protect the vulnerable. Recognizing, validating and soothing the deep hurt still lodged in the broken hearts of adults who were abused as kids.
October 5, 2019, a second march will be held in the streets of Salt Lake City. The banners that have been planted at the tops of the world and at the end of driveways will be publicly unfurled and proudly waved. Huge awareness will be spread of the abuse our children have endured and what MUST be done to prevent it in the future.
This will be an historic event. In 2018, one thousand marchers peacefully walked the streets of Salt Lake. Our goal for 2019 is 5,000 participants. Join us for this experience of a lifetime. Come…march…and Protect Every Child.
Some institutions have already implemented child protection policies. Some of those policies are robust and well thought out. We commend those institutions.
Many churches and other organizations have constructed bare-bone policies or none at all. That is no longer tolerable. Our children must be priority number one! Not the good name of the institution or the reputation of its leaders. In fact, the repute of an institute should be directly tied to the quality of its safeguards and its diligence in enforcing them.
As a minimum, Protect Every Child calls for the following standards. The term ‘children’ refers to minors up to and including the age of 17.
- No one-on-one interaction between adults and children. That includes ecclesiastical leaders. Children should never be taken behind closed doors without at least 2 adults present.
- No one-on-one communication via technology between unrelated adults and children.
- No private discussions initiated by adults relating to sex or sexual activity.
- For all adults who work with children: a) Criminal background checks. b) Re-verify criminal background checks at least every 3 years. c) Professional training on youth protection. d) Renew youth protection training at least every 2 years.
- Child protection policies are to be posted publicly and given to all parents. Parents and leaders/volunteers working with children are to be trained annually on these policies.
- Establish a complaint process for reporting policies not being observed or leaders acting in ways that are not consistent with child protection responsibilities. This process should be independent of the organization’s leadership.
- All institutions must act in accordance with government laws of reporting child abuse or suspicion of child abuse.
- Institutions are to have an independent process to evaluate how well the institution is following the policies.
Let’s join arm-in-arm to Protect Every Child.
You can start by signing the new PETITION.
Then share it with everybody. Every human being has a huge stake in this.
I am a Houston small business owner and father of six daughters. Over my 66 year lifetime, I have dedicated decades of volunteer service to the Mormon Church is various roles including bishop, bishopric counselor, ward mission leader, ward young men president, stake young men president, stake public affairs director, stake activities director, high councilor, high priest group leader, seminary teacher, institute teacher and several special assignments. From 1972 to 1974, I served a full time proselyting mission in Guatemala and El Salvador.