Missionary safety guidelines have long been determined by feedback from mission presidents around the world. Now, the Church is looking past the middle man for a more direct sense of the safety conditions experienced by missionaries.
For the first time ever, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has released a confidential survey to 62,000 missionaries worldwide in an effort to better understand safety conditions.
Church spokesman, Eric Hawkins released the following statement regarding the new survey:
The safety of missionaries is of great importance to the Church. Missionaries are taught principles to keep themselves safe, and in areas where missionary safety may be at risk, we may alter assignments or provide them with more specific guidelines to enhance their safety.
This survey is to help us better understand the day-to-day experiences and perceptions of missionaries around the world related to physical safety. The questions from this confidential survey are detailed and specific. It is being sent to each of our young missionaries around the world. We want to understand the risks to safety our missionaries experience or perceive.
The data from this survey will help us identify areas or circumstances where missionary safety may be at the greatest risk. We intend to use the results to review and modify, as needed, missionary safety guidelines and instructions.
Missionaries are divinely watched over in the work they perform. However, we believe it’s important to understand their circumstances and make appropriate adjustments when needed.
The Church maintains the survey was not brought on by any single incident or a general decline in missionary safety.
Current missionary guidelines instruct Sisters and Elders to avoid public demonstrations, walk only in well-lit areas, and travel swiftly and with a purpose. They are also told to avoid confrontations and be aware of any factions that maintain anti-american sentiments.
Four missionaries nearly died in 2016, when a bomb went off in the Brussels airport. The Church is also in the process of reducing its missionary presence in Russia to avoid future problems.
A recent video showing an LDS missionary fighting off two armed robbers raised questions about missionary safety and defense protocol in Brazil. Following the release of the video, Church spokesman, Eric Hawkins, stated that LDS missionaries are not taught self-defense, but the Church was pleased everyone was safe.
Read more at Religion News Service.