|Scholars have suggested that a "blanket" permission slip|
could have prevented tragedies like this
Salt Lake City, UT—Scholars at BYU and the University of Utah confirmed over the weekend that the Willy and Martin Handcart Companies could not leave earlier because they were waiting for several essential youth permission slips.
“We have identified about eight youth,” said Keith Ützlander, “who could not ride in some of the leaders’ handcarts because they didn’t have proper permission slips.” Historian Taylor Walters agreed with Ützlander, stating that “some of the youth had fathers who could not sign because they were in England serving missions, and at least two youth said that they lost the form sometime after church and before they could give it to their mom.”
Since the early days of the church, proper permission forms have been essential. This emphasis seems to go back to the Joseph Smith translation of the Beatitudes, where he restores the lost verse “Blessed are the permission slip bringers, for they shall keep us free from lawsuits.”
Scholars also noted that another part of the delay was connected with having enough adult handcart drivers, since, as D&C 158:9 says “Verily, thus saith the Lord, youth shall not ride in handcarts where other youth are the drivers, otherwise, verily, hijinks may ensue.”