Last month, the First Presidency released a statement emphasizing safety in Church sponsored activities. The letter calls for Church leaders to only plan and approve activities that present minimal risk for injury or illness as to preserve the safety of participants and protect the Church from significant liability. This statement was released in conjunction with the announcement that as of 2018, the Church will no longer be involved with the Venturing and Varsity scouting programs. As the longest standing charter organization for the BSA, the Church has always been closely tied to scouting. While the change doesn’t indicate a complete severance of the Church and BSA (the Church will continue to sponsor the Cub Scout and Boy Scout programs for boys 8-14), it does mean Young Men leaders will have to step up to the plate, particularly when it comes to risk management.
The Risk Management Department for the church, in a unique move, recently launched a new web resource page on LDS.org regarding health and safety. The new site features useful links and information about the Church safety guidelines and also provides some quirky videos about distracted driving and communicable diseases.
These materials are designed to entertain as well as educate — the Church paints a vivid picture of the risks involved by including fact sheets with harrowing statistics. One such statistic is that 1.6 million crashes a year involve distracted driving, and 23% of fatal accidents among people in their 20s involve distracted driving.
Why the sudden focus on safety? With the summer months now here, we are entering the 100 deadliest days of the year. They are also the 100 busiest days in terms of outdoor youth activities. The Church is planning on overhauling the young men program in the coming months to compensate for scouting, which monopolized the outdoor activities organized for young men. In scouting activities, liability would be assumed by the BSA, but with liability now being assumed by the Church, it has become imperative that leaders and youth are trained and educated on safety guidelines to mitigate risk.
The First Presidency message on safety states, “Leaders should be as careful with the safety of participants in their activities as they would be with the safety of their own children.” It’s a strong reminder for members, leaders, and participants to put more focus on safety at activities and leverage all the resources the Church has provided to do so.
For more information about the Church’s emphasis on safety while driving, click here.