News Story

Church Provides Donation to Children’s Justice Center in Utah

Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints toured the Children’s Justice Center in Salt Lake City and made a donation to help families affected by child abuse as part of National Child Abuse Awareness Month. Representatives of the Presiding Bishopric and all of the Church’s auxiliary presidencies participated in the tour on Tuesday, April 28, 2015, including the Primary, Young Women, Relief Society, Young Men and Sunday School organizations. 

Sister Rosemary Wixom, general president of the Primary organization for all boys and girls under age 12 in the Church, presented a $100,000 donation from the Church to Susanne Mitchell, director of the Children’s Justice Center. The donation will benefit all of the centers in Utah. “There’s a lot of sacrifices in the work,” said Mitchell. “But the rewards are beyond compare, and we can do more with your support.” The money will be used for training and for other resources to support the use of evidence-based child interview techniques.

The facility is a small, converted home in a neighborhood located at 257 11th Avenue and B Street in Salt Lake City.

Church representatives included Bishop Gary E. Stevenson of the Presiding Bishopric; Elder Gary B. Porter, an Area Seventy; Sister Rosemary M. Wixom, general president of the Primary, and her counselors, Sister Cheryl A. Esplin and Sister Mary R. Durham; Sister Bonnie Oscarson, general president of the Young Women, and her counselors, Sister Carol F. McConkie and Sister Neill F. Marriott; Sister Linda S. Reeves, second counselor in the Relief Society general presidency; M. Joseph Brough, second counselor in the Young Men general presidency; and Tad R. Callister, president of the Sunday School.

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes and district attorney Sim Gill and chief deputy Blake Nakamura from the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office were also in attendance.

“I don’t think that there’s a social responsibility that would be more fundamental than protecting our children and preserving their innocence,” said Bishop Stevenson who explained that protecting children is a core aspect of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He added, "We’re pleased to participate the way that we’re able to and we’re very impressed with everything that we’ve seen that’s happening with these good people here.”

“We have all been touched today by what happens here,” said Sister Wixom. “I cannot imagine the fear that a child must feel under those circumstances. It is beyond me, but I know it happens and I know it’s prevalent and I know that you are meeting their needs. We support you with all our hearts for what you’re doing here. The Church takes this matter very seriously.”

“I would like to thank you all for coming today to be a part of this very wonderful opportunity to raise awareness about child abuse in our community and how each and every one of us can be part of the solution just through our efforts of knowing more about the issue and making it easier for kids to speak up about abuse,” said Mitchell as she welcomed Church leaders to the Children’s Justice Center.

April is National Child Abuse Awareness Month in the United States; the awareness campaign is organized by the Children's Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. A child abuse prevention resource guide and other information are available online.

The Children’s Justice Center is a place where families who have experienced abuse can go to receive access to resources such as counseling, information about legal services, law enforcement support and information to help them overcome abuse. Utah opened its first center in 1991 in Salt Lake County. The Utah Legislature granted administrative authority of the center to the Utah Attorney General’s Office in 1994. There are currently 22 locations statewide that assist 5,500 child victims every year. The Utah Children’s Justice Center program is affiliated with the National Children’s Alliance in Washington, D.C.

The Salt Lake County Children’s Justice Center is administered by the district attorney. The program provides assistance with investigations involving sexual abuse, physical abuse, child homicide, domestic violence related child abuse, abductions and shaken baby syndrome. 

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