Preaching Protect The Children at CHURCH

Sam w-Bertie Name Tag

Great day at my ward meetings today.   Wonderful people.  Warm handshakes and plentiful hugs.  Of course, I wore my Protect LDS Children name tag.  As you can see, I grabbed the wrong one this morning.  I’m not Bertie Criddle.  That’s my mom.  My mistake wasn’t pointed out until I returned home.  I laughed and laughed.

Sacrament Meeting  

One of the speakers on today’s program approached me after the meeting.  He said, “Sam, you made the elephant move.  That almost never happens from the ground up.  I want to understand how you made the elephant move.  Can we go to lunch this week?”

Very cool and very supportive.  Our luncheon is scheduled for this Wednesday.

Sunday School

A sister I’ve known for years approached me and gave me a hug.  Whispering she said, “Thanks for the work that you are doing.”  I had no idea that she was familiar with our cause.

Priesthood

No longer is there a division between high priests and elders.  Twenty-two men were present in our meeting.

The instructor started off with this question, “What are some of the things that are unique in our Church?”

Oh man!  My mind immediately jumped to a statement that I wanted to blurt out.  I held off in order to collect my thoughts and….well, I was nervous.  It had been awhile since I’d made any controversial comments.

“Book of Mormon,” someone called out.  It was written on the chalk board.

“Prophets.” “Revelation.”  “Nature of God.”  Each in turn were recorded.

Finally, my resolve congealed,

“Here’s something unique to only our church.  The bishop taking children behind closed doors and asking them sexually explicit questions.”

The instructor, “Ok.”  The chalk went silent and the subject was changed to the real topic of the day…revelation.

Several points about personal and prophetic revelation were discussed.  The contrast was made between Nephi and his murmuring brothers.  One of the elders made this comment:

“Sometimes I feel like murmuring until I get more information and can see the whole picture.  It helps me understand revelations I’d previously wanted to murmur about.”

Suddenly, a personal revelation burst into my brain.  My hand shot up.

“I really appreciate the comment about having more information.  If I’d known that sexually explicit questions were being posed to 4 of my daughters, all alone behind closed doors, I would have done things much differently.  I know now and have received the revelation that I should have received years ago to protect my daughters when they were children.”  

The instructor responded,

“That’s why I’ve decided to teach my kids about chastity myself.  I don’t want them learning about it in the bishop’s office.”

Wow!!!

Action Call

What an amazing 3 hours.  Validation and awareness-creation in every meeting.

Protect LDS Children has a three pronged TBO strategy.  Top down, Bottom up and Outside In.

Our members can affect great things from the bottom up.  Here are two calls to action.
  1. Send a letter to your bishop to set boundaries.  Three sample letters are shown below.  Then, share your bishop’s response on the Success Stories Page.
  2. Look for opportunities to bring this topic up for discussion…in classes, with friends, with neighbors.  Today, I didn’t go to church with the intention of making the comments that I did.  Two opportunities magically presented themselves.

Regarding sending your bishop a letter or email:  Imagine if 1,000 members across the country did this.  Imagine in 10,000 members did.  This will make a huge impact.

Thousands of letters to bishops will protect tens of thousands of children.

Thousands of conversations in priesthood and relief society will protect tens of thousands more.

We can do this.  We have already made the elephant move.  Now, the elephant just needs to move to the right place and offer full protection to all of our children.

BTW, congratulations on causing the historic baby step that the Church has made.  You are awesome!!!

Sample Letter #1

Dear Bishop,

Our family has decided to set the following boundaries with regards to our children.

  1. Our children are not to participate in any one-on-one interviews with anyone in the stake, including the bishop.
  2. We are to be notified in advance of any interviews with our children.
  3. One of us must to be present in all interviews with our children.
  4. No sexual matters are to be discussed during any meetings involving our children.

These limits have been discussed with our kids.  We and they fully expect that these boundaries will be respected.

Please let us know if you have any questions.

This decision does not diminish our esteem for you as our bishop.  We appreciate and thank you for your dedicated service.

Sincerely,

Sample Letter #2

Hello Bishop,

I wanted to reach out to you regarding my children. You no doubt have heard about the recent campaign to change the way our youth are interviewed.  I assure you, we do not have an inkling of nefarious deeds taking place in our ward.  It is our effort to teach our kids appropriate boundaries and direct topics of conversation.  _______and I have decided to set some boundaries with regards to our children.

*Our children are not to participate in any one-on-one interviews with anyone in the stake, including the bishop and stake presidency. This also extends to counselors. Please be sure that they are aware.

*We are both to be notified in advance of any interviews with our children.  Consent from both parents are to be obtained before an interview is to take place.

*One of us must to be present in all interviews with our children.

*No sexual matters are to be discussed during any meetings involving our children.

These limits have been discussed with our kids. We and they fully expect that these boundaries will be respected. Please make this known that this is our family policy and this is to be followed by future leaders as well.

With love and appreciation,

Sample Letter #3

Dear Bishop,

You may have read in the news that there are a growing number of people both inside and outside of the church who are voicing concern about the policy which allows private one-on-one worthiness interviews between children and bishops. These interviews include explicit questions about sexual themes and there is concern that this arrangement is a setup for two major kinds of abuses. The largest movement, under the heading of ProtectLDSChildren.org, recently delivered over 50,000 signatures of support to the brethren at the Church office building calling for policies to be updated to safeguard our kids.

Changes to policy can take time, but I would like to discuss what we can do now to protect our children in keeping with our parental charge to love and care for our children.  I would preface this with a brief synopsis of the sort of harm we are wanting to avoid.

The first and most obvious sort of abuse which has been facilitated by the private and isolated nature of these interviews is sexual assault, pedophilia and rape. This is called overt abuse. It is understood that most Bishops are not predators, just as most scout leaders and most Catholic priests are not predators.  However, in Scouting and in the Catholic church, they learned by hard experience that predators exploit permissive policies to prey upon the vulnerable. In our church, the same is true of those Bishops who have been discovered to have abused children in this manner – the existing policies facilitated their abuse.  Just as Scouts and Catholics revised their policies to safeguard against predators, LDS church policies require revision.

The second form of abuse which results from these interviews is harder to identify, however is much more prevalent.  This is called covert abuse.

Imagine a parent chastising a toddler every-time she stumbles while learning to walk – telling the child that they are wicked, weak and worthless at every misstep. We could see this as a form of verbal and emotional abuse – even though the parents may be well meaning in their attempts to help the child get command of their ability to walk. The child would internalize the message of failure and worthlessness and it would shape how the child viewed herself and her worth. It is a fact that everyone who ever learned to walk stumbled along the way, and those stumbles were part of the normal development of the child – but the child would not understand that reality. They would imagine that they were the only ones who kept stumbling as they developed and it would cause a form of dissociation which results in a hatred of themselves and a sense of worthlessness which is harmful.  

This is the reality faced by many youth who are navigating puberty and are faced with leaders who demonize aspects of normal human sexual development under the heading of sexual purity. These leaders may be well meaning but they are untrained and ignorant of normal human sexual development or the traumatic psychological effects of inappropriate shaming.  

Just as the obvious sort of verbal and emotional abuse may lead to a life of self-loathing, insecurity, depression, self harm or anxiety and dysfunction – covert sexual abuse resulting from these interviews can be just as destructive.

My wife or I will be present in all interviews, whether with you or one of your counselors. Even if an interview is to be brief, one of us must be present. This includes formal interviews (such as at birthdays) or informal (such as a quick pulling in from the hall for a class presidency re-arrangement).

If in the event one of my children requests a meeting with you and also requests that someone other than me or my wife be present, we will allow them to choose who should be present (such as a counselor, or YW president or advisor, etc.)

Explicit questions about moral worthiness will not be asked to my children. The very nature of determining “worthiness” insinuates that a child may be unworthy. My children are good kids and I know that God loves them. Even if they do make mistakes, as we all do in life, I do not want them to ever feel that they are unworthy before God. They are always worthy of his love, no matter what. My wife and I, as parents, can help them with the repentance process and to accompany them to visit with you if that is needed.

I am requesting that you do not ask explicit questions about masturbation, sexual orientation, or any other intimate sexual activity. These are items that we will discuss with our children in our home, as their parents. I do not think it is appropriate for a young boy or girl to be in a room alone with a man, any man, and be asked these types of questions.

Children are not under covenant to obey the Law of Chastity. That is a temple covenant. We will discuss chastity in our home with our children. What it means, and how it relates to them. However, I do not want them being asked by an adult man if they are sexually pure. I believe that this type of questioning could possibly play a role in a child at some future point being groomed by other adults (whose intentions are evil) if the child feels that it’s OK to discuss sexual topics with an adult man. Now, maybe you never would ask these explicit questions. But there are plenty of Bishops out there who do. And it is damaging. It is damaging to a child’s sense of worth, and it could be damaging to their sexual development that could cause relationship and mental health issues both in the present and later in life. It is damaging that a child may develop a sense that they are not worthy of God’s love, as was the case for me during my teenage years.

With love and appreciation,

 

Pompous, Petty and Infantile

First Pres

Dear Stake President,

I hope this missive finds you well as our beautiful spring weather is about to fade into summer’s heat.

Over the past few years, I have sent you several letters that I hoped would be passed up the chain of priesthood authority.  So far, I have not heard any word in response.  I’d like to know to whom you forwarded my communications.

Below you will find a new letter that I’ve written to the apostles.

This is actually my 4th letter to them.  The first one was entrusted to your care several months ago.  The next 2 were printed as full page spreads in the Salt Lake Tribune and the Ogden Standard Examiner.  The ads in the paper cost me a total of $25,000.  Hopefully, this one will only cost me time.  Please forward it to them.

BTW, I’d love to sit down with you and reopen discussions on changes we should make in our stake.

All my best,

Sam

Dear Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,

Although, I don’t believe that you are pompous, petty and infantile, it appears that some highly respected members do.  At least, that’s the way I interpret what they are saying. 

Listen to this quote from a prominent and renowned member:

“If you want to change the church, it’s possible to do that at the grass roots level.   That’s what I call trickle up revelation.  It’s an important force, maybe one of the most important forces in the church.  The one thing that you can absolutely guarantee is that a frontal assault on the brethren or even the perception of that will cause them to dig in.  You have to be politically savvy.”

No matter how something is brought to a person’s attention, if it’s the right thing to do, we do it.  To dig in and stall if the other party is not “politically savvy” reflects a pompous, petty and infantile attitude. 

I believe that you have the opposite approach, the one described by Elder David A. Bednar in the recent General Conference.

He instructed us in the Christ-like quality of meekness.

“A distinguishing characteristic of meekness is a particular spiritual receptivity to learning both from the Holy Ghost and from people who may seem less capable, experienced, or educated, who may not hold important positions.

Meekness is the principal protection from the prideful blindness that often arises from prominence, position, power, wealth, and adulation.”

What a great quote.  Of all people, certainly the apostles must have the quality of meekness in spades. 

Elder Bednar described me perfectly:  less experienced and holds no important position.  And he goes on to say that the meek have the spiritual receptivity to learn from politically inept people like me.

And who needs the personal protection that comes from possessing meekness?  Those of prominence, position, wealth and adulation.  That fits you, my friends, to a tee.  According to this potent conference talk, you are susceptible to the blindness that often arises from prominence, position, wealth and adulation.

I am cheered by the insightful teachings of Elder Bednar.  It’s encouraging that you are meek and willing to listen and do what’s right no matter how severe my ineptness is.  The meek learn from the incompetent and do what’s right because it’s the right thing to do.

The pompous, petty and infantile dig in to protect their prominence, position and adulation.  Fortunately, that can’t possibly describe you.

By now, you should know that I represent the 56,000 people who signed the petition that was delivered to you on March 30th.  I, along with 1,000 other members and former members, also presented a book for each and every one of you.  Irene Caso accepted them on your behalf.  The books contain “Sacred Stories of Sacred Children.”  They detail the egregious damage that our current interview policies are causing. 

I trust that you have read many of the stories and are horrified at what we are doing to our kids.  Let’s make the changes now before any more children are hurt. 

This is an urgent matter.  Every week more and more of our children are harmed.

It’s high time that we put into place state-of-the-art protections.  Every other church and youth serving organization already has. 

It’s high time that we protect our bishops.  Our policy puts them in the cross hairs of temptation and false accusations.  Their liability grows everyday.

It’s also high time that we protect the good name of the church.  Certainly, you must know that everybody outside of the church views our practice with disgust.  Our growth in the U.S. has slowed to a crawl.  Continuing our outdated protocol will drag it down even further.  And what about the Church’s liability?  In today’s environment, you have to realize how vulnerable our church has become.

Here are the 2 changes that tens of thousands of us support you in making.

1)  Eliminate one-on-one interviews.
2) Forbid sexually explicit questions from being asked of our children.

These simple changes will protect our children, protect our leaders and protect the good name of our church.

Love and best wishes,

Sam Young and 56,475 concerned friends of our children

What Can You Do Now?

Help bolster our army of thundering lions.  Our petition currently has 20,161 signatures.   Our next goal is 30,000.  Care2 also has a petition that has garnered over 36,000 signatories.  Between them both our total is over 56,000 strong.

If you haven’t already, Sign the Petition.

If you can, Share the Petition….again.

Every week that goes by, children continue to be egregiously harmed behind bishop’s closed doors in Mormon churches all around the world.

IT’S.TIME.TO.PULVERIZE.THIS.POLICY.

Links

Sign the Petition

 

 

Great Suggestions to Protect Our Children

Lion Protecting CubsIntroducing Timothy Birt, a mental health therapist who has run centers for sexually abused children for 14 years.  He has fundamental concerns about bishop interviews from a moral, legal, and ethical perspective.  His professional credentials:  MS, LPC, LMFT.

Tim has worked hard to come up with thorough and well thought out suggestions.   I present them for your serious consideration.

Tim’s Recommendations

To those of us who have signed the petition or submitted a story, I ask you to join Sam Young by considering what you can do to help protect LDS children in your own ward or stake.

A)  Consider asking for a meeting with your Bishopric and Stake Presidency.  Inform them of the issues and concerns about current church practices of interviewing children about sexual issues.  Let them know you have signed the petition.  Give them links to the stories of harm to our children.

B)  Consider sharing your own story with your church leaders, face to face, of how you felt having those interviews.  Or share difficult feelings you may have had about the church focus on masturbation / chastity.  Or the teaching that it would be better to die than to “lose your virtue” if you were raped or sexually abused.  Or what it was like sending your own children into private interviews.  Or how teachings about purity have affected your intimate relationship in adulthood.  Or your own story of sexual abuse or assault or sexual harassment and how church teachings did not prepare you to heal or have boundaries.  Consider sharing with them inappropriate questions asked by your church leaders.  Or whatever YOUR experiences were and concerns are now.  Then ask them if they can or will acknowledge how the practices of the church did YOU harm or impacted you personally or your children personally.

C)  Consider telling your local church leaders that you don’t support the practice of one-on-one youth interviews that discuss sexuality or worthiness. Consider telling your local church leaders that you are uncomfortable allowing your under-aged children to be interviewed alone or asked inappropriate questions.  Consider informing them that you will not consent to allow church leaders to request one on one interviews with your children.

D)  Consider suggesting to your local church leaders viable alternatives used in other wards, stakes and churches to support spiritual development of our youth that don’t require one-on-one adult youth interviews.  Namely the following options:

1)  Don’t do interviews at all.   Allow youth who want to go to the temple or have a calling or advance in the priesthood to do so if they desire to do so.

2)  If Church leaders feel they are required by the Church to ask children questions, consider asking to have those questions submitted to the parent in writing in advance.  Allow the parent to pass on questions they feel are appropriate for their children and let children respond in writing.  The child’s response could even be in a signed envelope. Any followup questions can be handled in the same way.

3)  Inform bishops and Stake leaders that they can communicate with youth in groups with parents and adults of the youth’s choosing in the room and state the expectations of the church for participation in temple work or callings and invite all those who feel they can follow those guidelines to participate and if they participate they do so with that understanding.

4)  Discuss other ways church leaders could teach and support youth that follow standard safe sanctuary / child protection guidelines that require background checks, two deep leadership, no one-on-one contact between adults and youth, and are careful and respectful in discussing sexuality with youth.

E)  If the Bishop / Church leader insists on interviews, ask that a parent or adult of the child’s choosing be present for the entire interview and advise the child they don’t have to participate in any interview they don’t want to have.  Allow the adult to object to any inappropriate questions.  In the rare instance where a child requests a private interview with a church leader, have two church leaders of the child’s choosing in the room so there is no one-on-one interaction which violates basic child protection principles.  Note that church leaders can be essential outlets for a child to make an outcry of child abuse and must be trained to know how to report and handle these cases correctly.  Consider informing the Bishop that he personally and the church collectively are subject to criminal and civil consequences if they mishandle reporting child abuse allegations and civil lawsuits if they violate confidentiality of certain things they hear as a church leader. Consider asking your Church leaders if they have been adequately trained about mandated reporting and confidentiality and if they are willing to follow the law? Consider letting them know you will hold them and the Church criminally and civilly accountable for their duties to follow the law in reporting child abuse.

F)  Consider asking your church leader if they will commit to following basic child protection policies in their ward/Stake by NEVER being one-on-one with a child who is not their own in any capacity at church or in church service and having two deep adult leadership present when adults and youth are together.

G)  Consider asking bishops and church leaders to not provide sex education or to delve into sexual activities in interviews with youth but to refer such issues to the parents.  Ask your church leaders if they will commit to this agreement.

H)  If a bishop or church leader insists on asking questions about masturbation or considers masturbation to be sinful and teaches that it needs to be confessed , consider asking the bishop / church leader to find in the General Handbook of instructions any policy that directly addresses masturbation and to read to you the exact words from the handbook. (Note: There is nothing in the handbook about masturbation specifically.) Then consider asking your bishop / church leader to commit to not asking about masturbation.  Further, you can consider requesting that they and every teacher in the ward not mention or teach anything about masturbation and to refrain implying that it’s sinful.  Ask if a youth attempts to confess masturbation as a moral problem or impacting worthiness in any way, that you request that the church leader inform the youth that masturbation is not addressed in the handbook of instructions and is a personal matter.

I)  Consider Informing your bishop and stake leaders that you want to discuss the damage that has been done to members and youth by uninformed and hurtful teachings about sexuality and forgiveness.  Inform them that 1 in 4 girls are victims of child sexual abuse and nearly all girls and women experience some sort of sexual harassment or assault during their lifetimes.  The church teachings about sexuality and chastity do not address the reality of sexual abuse and harassment in its past teachings about “chastity.” Many lessons taught are profoundly inconsiderate and damaging.  Boys and men are also abused and harassed and assaulted. Many unskillful teachings about sexuality (licked cupcake, chewed gum, hole in the board, a person’s clothing being responsible for causing someone else to act sexually inappropriately, males judged not able to control their sexual urges, etc.) are ubiquitous in our church culture and that such teaching are damaging.

Ask your church leaders to work with you to eliminate these antiquated and harmful perspectives and have trauma and consent informed teachings about sexuality as part of our church teachings and culture. Ask church leaders to evaluate church teachings and to discuss consent, respect, and responsibility and acknowledge sexual abuse and harassment.

Consider asking bishop / church leaders to have mental health professionals available to take referrals for those affected and to not attempt counseling or spiritual advising for victims of abuse or assault. Consider advising them that they are out of their depth and will cause harm if they attempt to counsel abuse victims.

Consider requesting changes to youth standards nights and lessons to be informed that there are victims of child abuse and rape and assault in the room when they are discussing “chastity” and to consider inviting mental health professionals to discuss in large groups how to address victimization.

J)  Consider asking bishop / church leaders to hear accounts of how the church and its leaders in their ward’s have hurt members by worthiness interviews and harmful teachings on morality and chastity (licked cupcake) and ask them if they feel it would be appropriate to make a formal apology to those hurt by such actions and to work to address the issues raised by those who are hurt by such actions and teachings.

K)  Consider suggesting that women leaders be involved when women need to discuss sexuality or abuse and not men.

L)  Consider requesting that bishop’s doors have a window not just a peep hole and all rooms in the church where children may be behind a closed door with adults, have a window installed.

M)  Consider requesting that all members called or allowed to work with youth have a criminal background check and youth protection training before they start their calling or responsibility.  Consider informing your church leader that you may choose to not sustain any adult called to a position with youth who has not had a background check and youth protections training.  Consider not sustaining anyone who has not had a background check when the calling is voted on in church.

N)  Consider speaking up in your ward so that every ward and stake in the church has multiple people asking our leaders to protect children in these ways. Understand that when every church unit has multiple members and non members requesting these protections for our children, change will be more likely.  This change can be bottom up and not wait on Salt Lake to make church wide changes.

If your local leaders don’t listen to your concerns or don’t implement requested changes to protect our children and redress harms, consider not voting to sustain such leaders in your local unit conferences.  Publicly tell why you’re not sustaining them.  The law of common consent is gospel doctrine and we need to use it.  The Church would have difficulty bringing church discipline on all members who have concerns. When we act in unity our voices can be collectively heard.  There are hundreds of thousands of us who will be willing to voice our concerns.  We can begin doing so at the local level where we can make a difference.

If any of these recommendations are a fit for you, consider taking action.  If they don’t, consider what you can do in your local church unit or community to make a difference.  Please don’t wait for the church to change from the top, start the discussion to protect LDS children in your own local unit now.

Be a True Texan–Gallop to the Rescue

SLC News Conf

Dear President______,

Here’s a report from church today:

“My bishop just said next Sunday there will be a meeting for parents about worthiness interviews for the parents knowledge about them. He is obviously holding this meeting because of the recent outrage at the church for these interviews.”

Change is coming.  The only question is when.  We, you and me, have the opportunity to protect the good name of the church.  Lead the charge to protect our children.

We…are…Texans!  We are independent.  We don’t lag behind.  When we see a need, we gallop to the rescue.  Let’s jump on our horses and gallop to protect our children.

I’m paying all the expenses for the news conference on Tuesday, Feb 6.  All you need to do is show up.  You will be highly respected by every single person in our fair city….including the 100,000 Mormons who live in the viewing area.

As President Monson said, “May we ever choose the harder right, instead of the easier wrong.”

How sweet would it be if after the news conference, you and I were the ones making the rounds on the morning TV shows and then the afternoon radio shows.  I’d pay your way to fly with me to New York and Los Angeles for all the national media that is up ahead.  Make no mistake…IT IS COMING!

Of course, we both may be excommunicated.  But, that’s OK.  Is there a more noble cause than speaking up for the protection of our children?  You and I will go down as followers of Jesus Christ no matter the consequences.

Your brother in Christ,

-Sam

(I sent this letter to my Stake President today.)

Links

Houston News Conference Details

Sign the Petition

Share Your Story

Read the Stories

See the Stories

News Conference-Jan 18, 2018 Salt Lake City

Lion Protecting Cubs

When:    January 18, 2018  10am

What:    News conference

Where:  50 West Club & Café located at 50 W. Broadway in Salt Lake City.

Event:    Protect LDS Children

  • Current status of the Petition: Protect the Children—Stop Sexually Explicit Interviews of Mormon Youth.
  • Large collection of survivor stories.
  • Announcement of the March-for-the-Children to deliver the petition to the Church Office Building.

Three speakers will be on the podium:

  • Sam Young, concerned father, former Mormon bishop, petition organizer;
  • Joelle Casteix, sex abuse victims’ advocate, Western Regional Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network;
  • Natasha Helfer Parker, a certified sex therapist and licensed marriage & family therapist.

For decades, it has been common place for a significant number of LDS Bishops to pose questions of a sexual nature to children, all alone, behind closed doors.  This practice has caused incalculable damage to our children.

The consequences range from childhood self-loathing all the way to sexual abuse and suicide. The goal of Protect-LDS-Children is to bring a halt to these dangerous and damaging interviews.

The petition has now garnered well over 10,000 signatures.  5,000 of the signers are from Utah.  Many of them are active LDS members.

To date more than 1,000 survivor stories have been collected.  They recount horrifying and heartrending interviews, the accompanying trauma and the lasting damage.  All of this has been done to our children behind closed doors of bishop’s offices.

The time has come to bring this practice to an immediate stop.  How this will be accomplished will be a central part of the news conference message.

Sam Young

Houston business owner, father of 6 daughters, active LDS Church member, decades of service to the LDS church 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.  Served full time mission in Guatemala/El Salvador.

Joelle Casteix

Named one of Orange County’s 100 Most Influential People, Joelle is the award-winning author of the bestsellers  The Well-Armored Child: A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Child Sexual Abuse (RiverGrove Books) and The Power of Responsibility (based on her wildly successful TEDx talk.) A successful writer and blogger, she is also a leading national “in the trenches” expert on the prevention and exposure of child sex abuse and cover-up, especially within institutions such as the Catholic Church.

A former journalist, educator, and public relations professional, Joelle has taken her own experience as a victim of child sex crimes and devoted her career to exposing abuse, advocating on behalf of survivors, and spreading abuse prevention strategies for parents and communities. Her writing has been featured in The Orange County Register, Parenting.com, and hundreds of other blogs and magazines nationwide.

Since 2003, Joelle has been the volunteer Western Regional Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. In that capacity, she has traveled the world exposing abusers, helping victims get healing, justice and accountability, and researching predatory abuse patterns in institutions.

Her expertise includes an in-depth understanding and recognition of patterns of abuse, predatory behaviors, grooming, prevention, institutional disregard, and criminal cover-up.

She also conducts trainings for families, churches and communities on how to raise empowered children and keep our communities safe from child sexual abuse.

She has practiced for over 20 years, primarily working with issues of relational health, faith journeys, and sexuality. She is a Certified Sex Therapist and Marriage & Family Therapist. She writes a blog called “The Mormon Therapist,” and hosts the podcasts “Mormon Mental Health,” and “Mormon Sex Info.” She also runs a sex education program, “Sex Talk with Natasha” and her private practice, “Symmetry Solutions.” For more information visit natashaparker.org.

News Conference: It’s Time to Roar for the Children.

LionMany continue to ask how they can help.  Well…frankly…you have helped a ton.

  • 11,000 signatures on the petition.  Much as a result of people sharing it with courage, passion and push back from your friends.
  • 152 stories shared on protectldschildren.org.  I now know how damn hard and painful it can be to reveal your story in public.  Regardless of whether or not your name is hidden or anonymous.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.  I have shed many tears as I read your words.
  • Today’s Tribune article by Ethan Dodge.

Here’s how you can help NOW

On Thursday January 18, 2018, we are holding a News Conference to protect the children.  Lot’s of media are expected.  Of course, it’s always possible that no one will show.  But, with all the press coverage during past 3 weeks, it’s likely that it will be a great media affair.

Besides media, I’m inviting EVERYBODY.  This can make a huge difference in our cause.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Come yourself
  • Bring others
  • If you can’t come, encourage others to come
  • Share this blog article
  • Mark that you are coming on the Facebook Event page  (Well…I don’t have that put together yet…It’s coming)
  • If you have media contacts, encourage them to come

If ten of you attend…I’ll be grateful.

If 50 of you attend…that will be awesome.

If 100 attend…it will be noted by the media.

If 300 come out…Oh My Goodness…It would be a precursor to the march that will be announced at the news conference.  Three hundred people would be a huge!  But, I’ll be grateful if ten is the number.

The wheels are turning.  The locomotive is moving.  We, the lions are roaring.  All for the safety of our children.

Below is the news release that has been distributed widely throughout Utah.

News Release–Protect LDS Children 

When:    January 18, 2018  10am

What:    News conference

Where:  50 West Club & Café located at 50 W. Broadway in Salt Lake City.

Event:    Protect LDS Children

  • Current status of the Petition: Protect the Children—Stop Sexually Explicit Interviews of Mormon Youth.
  • Large collection of survivor stories.
  • Announcement of the March-for-the-Children to deliver the petition to the Church Office Building.

Three speakers will be on the podium:

  • Sam Young, concerned father, former Mormon bishop, petition organizer;
  • Joelle Casteix, sex abuse victims’ advocate, Western Regional Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network;
  • Natasha Helfer Parker, a certified sex therapist and licensed marriage & family therapist.

For decades, it has been common place for a significant number of LDS Bishops to pose questions of a sexual nature to children, all alone, behind closed doors.  This practice has caused incalculable damage to our children.

The consequences range from childhood self-loathing all the way to sexual abuse and suicide. The goal of Protect-LDS-Children is to bring a halt to these dangerous and damaging interviews.

The petition has now garnered well over 10,000 signatures.  5,000 of the signers are from Utah.  Many of them are active LDS members.

To date more than 1,000 survivor stories have been collected.  They recount horrifying and heartrending interviews, the accompanying trauma and the lasting damage.  All of this has been done to our children behind closed doors of bishop’s offices.

The time has come to bring this practice to an immediate stop.  How this will be accomplished will be a central part of the news conference message.

Sampic

Sam Young

Houston business owner, father of 6 daughters, active LDS Church member, decades of service to the LDS church 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.  Served full time mission in Guatemala/El Salvador.

Joelle Casteix

JoelleNewReleaseSex Abuse Victims’ Advocate; Western Regional Leader, SNAP, the Survivors Network

Named one of Orange County’s 100 Most Influential People, Joelle is the award-winning author of the bestsellers  The Well-Armored Child: A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Child Sexual Abuse (RiverGrove Books) and The Power of Responsibility (based on her wildly successful TEDx talk.) A successful writer and blogger, she is also a leading national “in the trenches” expert on the prevention and exposure of child sex abuse and cover-up, especially within institutions such as the Catholic Church.

A former journalist, educator, and public relations professional, Joelle has taken her own experience as a victim of child sex crimes and devoted her career to exposing abuse, advocating on behalf of survivors, and spreading abuse prevention strategies for parents and communities. Her writing has been featured in The Orange County Register, Parenting.com, and hundreds of other blogs and magazines nationwide.

Since 2003, Joelle has been the volunteer Western Regional Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. In that capacity, she has traveled the world exposing abusers, helping victims get healing, justice and accountability, and researching predatory abuse patterns in institutions.

Her expertise includes an in-depth understanding and recognition of patterns of abuse, predatory behaviors, grooming, prevention, institutional disregard, and criminal cover-up.

She also conducts trainings for families, churches and communities on how to raise empowered children and keep our communities safe from child sexual abuse.

NatashaNewsReleaseNatasha Helfer Parker, LCMFT, CST

She has practiced for over 20 years, primarily working with issues of relational health, faith journeys, and sexuality. She is a Certified Sex Therapist and Marriage & Family Therapist. She writes a blog called “The Mormon Therapist,” and hosts the podcasts “Mormon Mental Health,” and “Mormon Sex Info.” She also runs a sex education program, “Sex Talk with Natasha” and her private practice, “Symmetry Solutions.” For more information visit natashaparker.org.