Thursday, December 11, 2008

Abuse Progress?

Another abuse case in Brooklyn, this time in broad daylight, is at least making things happen, though with troubling side aspects. A young Chassidic girl was molested by a Chassidic man after he got her into his house by asking for help with something, in the middle of the day, in Borough Park.
According to State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who has championed the cause of abuse victims in recent months, the family first reported the incident to his office. They then contacted four community rabbonim to ask whether they were halachically permitted to report the perpetrator to the authorities. Three rabbonim allegedly said they didn't want to get involved. The fourth, in contrast, permitted them, and apparently strongly urged them to proceed.
Wolf discusses the rabbonim who allegedly said they didn't want to get involved, wondering how they could do such a thing. After the fourth Rav's proper guidance, the family contacted the police and the man was arrested and charged by the Kings County DA, Charles Hynes. In an interview, Hynes argues that he's finding the Orthodox community is cooperating, which seems odd in light of this case, where it took four Rabbonim before one said to go to the police. Perhaps he means they don't actively hide things once the police are involved - which is all fine and well - but there seems to be much room for progress within the Orthodox Jewish community. R' Horowitz has a great piece in this week's Jewish Press on why he writes about abuse; please read the whole thing. In addition, the following news clips (hit expand) from WPIX are interesting if only because of some of the reasons people don't report abuse, such as a girl who was molested by her father for years who simply didn't know any better.


  1. i am so, so petrified to one day have sons who will have to learn in yeshiva ketana....

  2. Make sure you understand how your kids' schools protect against such things. And I don't know that it's any better for girls.

  3. i want to know who the rabbonim (and i use the term loosely) are who didnt want to "get involved"...

  4. I have to commend the chassidish family. Unlike so many others, they did not care about other family members of theirs not getting shidduchim, or any other none-sense, if they came forth. Yasher koach to them, and I wish them good luck with the daughters healing process!

  5. I think one of the most practical statements brought up in the report was about the girl who did not realize that what was happening to her was wrong. Besides for trying to root out wrongdoers, we must also educate our children about how to protect themselves. One of the beautiful things about Jewish children is their innocence and modesty. However, they are especially vulnerable because of it. There are modest ways to teach these things and when I have children I plan to do so myself in case the schools have not come to yet.

  6. The truth is, while it's not a whole lot of progress, just the fact that there is more of an awareness out there is progress. Although I'm rather more inclined to believe the parent who said he was strongarmed into signing the letter saying it was all right for K to get off on misdemeanors, rather than the DA who seemed to claim it was all 100% voluntary.

    I had a teacher in high school (so this is going back about nine or ten years) who warned us, when we had our own families in the future, to research any schools or camps we sent our kids to very carefully. Basically, he told us that things went on that shouldn't go on in frum institutions, but since they do we need to be aware and protect our kids. He only used lashon nekiah, but we all got his message. I guess he was ahead of the times...

  7. The Law - As I wrote on Wolf, I'd want to know a lot more details before throwing them under the bus, though it doesn't look good.

    Ser - Yes, good for them.

    B~M - Amen.

    Scraps - Agreed on both counts. And that's a great teacher; we need more like him.

  8. What is frightening is how much more is going on that isn't reaching the right ears. How many people are suffering due to embarrassment of coming forward. May Hashem hear those silent tears...

  9. This IS progress. Yes, the Rabbi's actions were terrible, BUT this is a VAST improvement.

    A year ago those same 3 Rabbis would have likley said that it is Assur, or Mesirah. The fact that they didn't is a HUGE step in the right direction.

    Keep the blog pressure on. It is working!

    Ezz, can I get a plug for our petition?

  10. BTW, I RARELY blog under my own name.

    This is an issue that I am glad to fight to the bitter end

    Chaim Shapiro

  11. FR - It's why it's so important to come forward.

    Chaim - I was wondering if it was the same one. :)

    Get the website filled (right now it's mostly blank), and I'll seriously consider it.

  12. We are working on it Ezz...We are all volunteering our time, so we go as fast as we can!

  13. Though I agree that if the story really happened this way, it's really sad, I think everything has to be taken with a grain of salt. Anyone who's ever been written up in a newspaper knows that details are often changed or exaggerated and not everything is reliable information. 3 rabbis might mean 1 rabbi, or two. Not wanting to get involved might mean that they felt this was too difficult for them and they referred them to someone else who would know better how to handle it. It's hard to know what went on when you weren't there to witness it.

  14. to research any schools or camps we sent our kids to very carefully.

    Yes - CAMPS. Yes. There's a lot of talk about inappropriate teachers, but there are also situations that happen at camps. At camps it's especially tricky because I know people who have had two kinds of experiences:

    1. Campers realize their power (that anything they say gets taken Very Seriously - which it should!) but don't necessarily realize the serious implications of it and they make things up about their counselors.

    2. In the camp I went to, there was a rule that a counselor and a camper are never supposed to be alone in a bunk together (just the two of them). If they need to talk, etc., they should do so on the porch in full view of everyone else. My camp was EXTREMELY conscientious of issues like this. But not all camps are. I know a kid who went to a different camp and almost had an issue there. It's easy to hide things in camps because there's so much going on and so many people to keep track of.

  15. And that's a great teacher; we need more like him.

    Seriously. I think one of the greatest losses for my high school and the community at large was when he left town. He was a really amazing teacher and he was a great leader in the community.

    In the camp I went to, there was a rule that a counselor and a camper are never supposed to be alone in a bunk together (just the two of them). If they need to talk, etc., they should do so on the porch in full view of everyone else.

    This is a very, very smart rule on the camp's part. Do the campers know this is the rule too, or do they only tell the counselors not to be alone with the kids? I think that for the campers' protection, they should know as well. A lot of stuff goes on at camps that is...well, let's just say, not so kosher... The one unfortunate thing is that it doesn't protect campers from other campers who might try to pull the same sort of stuff.

  16. One of the big problems with camps is that the vast majority of people in direct contact with the kids are really kids themselves. Even if you go a few tiers up, the ones in charge are often very young and inexperienced. There are usually only a few genuine adults on staff and they are spread very thin, with not much direct contact with the little people.

    I remember when I was a little kid in camp and I thought it was godly to be a DH. The DH's are 17! The head counselors are 18! No offense to you teens out there, but that is little!

    Besides for the issue of abuse, having immature people in positions of such power over impressionable young children can cause damage at various levels. Yet, when I was still a day camp counselor at 20, people looked at that as something strange...

  17. And may I add to my previous comment, this is one of the problems with many frum schools as well. Those BY teachers straight out of sem -- how many of them have the kind of life experience and maturity that will enable them to deal with their precious charges? How many of them are even mature enough to realize how inadequate they are and pray their guts out for siyata dishmaya?

    I'm not saying there aren't exceptional 18-year-old BY teachers out there. I am simply suggesting that they are rare.