Jennifer Roach is a licensed mental health counselor living in American Fork, Utah. She joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints four years ago after being in the Protestant church her whole life. She currently serves as a Gospel Doctrine teacher in her ward. Jennifer is the recipient of this year’s “John Taylor Defender of the Faith” award and the BH Robert’s Research Grant. Her research primarily focuses on issues that arise when sexual abuse happens in churches. Jennifer does a weekly podcast for FAIR Latter-day Saints that focuses on questions that arise about our faith from Evangelicals. She also teaches as an adjunct for Brigham Young University-Idaho.
01:50 Kurt introduces Jennifer Roach and her background as a therapist for sexual abuse.
03:30 Jennifer will speak on four specific claims pertaining to the Church and sexual abuse and seven things that the Church does to go above and beyond what most churches do to help and protect youth.
7:00 Jennifer addresses some of the biggest questions that people have. One big question that people have is, “Is there more sexual abuse in our church or not?” Sometimes the media twists things to make it seem that way.
8:30 Boy Scout records data on abuse. Jennifer reviewed and researched all these cases from the past 80 years and was able to find how cases the Church of Jesus Christ has compared to other churches. Around 5.6% of the abuse cases were Latter-day Saint related.
19:10 Why doesn’t the Church do background checks? Jennifer explains the three issues with background checks.
- The issue of delayed disclosure. Most people don’t disclose the abuse they received until they’re in their 50s to 70s.
- Background checks are not thorough. It’s not a deep dive into someone’s past. It only shows convicted crimes but not accusations.
- It only covers the past 7 years.
29:30 The danger of telling people that someone has been background checked. We believe that means this person is squeaky clean and they can be trusted. It really means that they don’t have convictions and they aren’t on the sex offenders list but it does not mean they are safe.
32:20 Jennifer talks about the case from the previous year. The man passed the federal background check every year despite doing horrific things to his own children and none of it was on his record.
34:20 The Church’s helpline. There have been a lot of claims accusing the Church’s helpline of hiding abuse but if we look deeper into the case we find most of these claims are untrue.
38:00 Why do we need a helpline?
- It helps leaders know what to report.
- Each state’s laws are different.
- The helpline helps bishops fulfill their legal responsibilities and get the correct help for the victim.
48:00 There are standard best practices when working with youth and the Church follows all of them. They are all in the handbook. Another concern is there isn’t always a window in the bishop’s office. However, a youth can take a parent, leader, or friend into the bishop’s office. It’s in the handbook.
53:10 What is the Church doing that goes above and beyond those gold standard things in child protection?
- The helpline
- Gender specific leaders for young women
- The member number system
- Existing associations (go to church with your neighbors who know you)
- Being sustained
- Being called
1:10:50 How can we be better at detecting abuse that is currently going on? Most of the time kids disclose abuse by accident. They normally aren’t going to disclose it to you directly.
1:22:50 Is there anything else we can do to help stop abuse?
Jennifer’s Presentation Slides: PowerPoint format | PDF format
4 Reasons Why Bishops Should Be Meeting with Youth | An Interview with Jennifer Roach
Reporting Abuse, Church Helpline, & the Bishop | An Interview with Jennifer Roach
Jennifer’s work at Public Square
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