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Keeping Our Children Safe - Part One
by Rabbi Yakov Horowitz
Publication: Chicago Community Kollel

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12/14/06

This parenting column is dedicated in honor of our beloved children Dovid Meir and Faigy Loeb on the occasion of their marriage this coming Sunday.

Best mazel tov wishes to our mechutanim, Jan and Blumie Loeb of BaltimoreMaryland; to their parents, Eric and Sonya Loeb, Rabbi Yakov and Rhoda Pollack, and to ours, Shlomo and Beile Nutovic, Leibel and Bracha Berger.

May the zechusim of all parenting lessons learned from this column merit Dovid Meir and Faigy that they be zoche to build a bayis ne’eman b’Yisroel, and be a source of nachas to our families and to Klal Yisroel.

Yakov and Udi Horowitz


Dear Rabbi Horowitz,

I am the proud mother of some very lovely young children who are growing up much too quickly. In general, I’d like to think of myself as a confident parent that tries to approach important issues with a healthy balance. But, there are some issues out there for which the proper balance remains a mystery to me. And that is why I am seeking your advice sooner, rather than later.

Recently I have heard a number of stories about abuse in the frum community and would like to know just how prevalent abuse is in the frum community? In general, I’d like to preserve my children’s innocence while dealing with realities that need to be dealt with.

What responsibility do schools have when it comes to addressing children about this issue? And, what responsibility do parents have? At what age should parents begin to address the issue with their children, and in how much detail? And, what is the proper way to even begin the conversation?

Also, while my children are not teenagers yet, what should parents of teenage children say to their children, who are bound to either see headlines in the newspaper or hear about such terrible news through friends?

Sincerely,

A mother looking for balance and perspective

Rabbi Horowitz Responds

Note to readers: Over the years that I have been dealing with at-risk youth, I’ve had extensive and ongoing consultations with the leading gedolim of our generation on a wide-ranging array of issues where I was fortunate to receive their Torah perspective and their wisdom. This column and the one that will appear in this space next week reflect many of the collective lessons that I learned from our gedolim as to the propriety of dealing with these sensitive matters.

While preparing to respond to these questions, I discussed this matter with three (frum) mental health professionals who are outstanding clinicians and widely respected as experts in the field of sexual abuse and prevention – Doctors David Pelcovitz, Barry Horowitz, and Benzion Twerski. My response reflects their input and they graciously reviewed these lines before publication. I would like to express my gratitude to them for their time and their devotion to the children of our community. Y.H.

Over the past decade or so, we have come to the painful realization that we are not immune from challenges that face the broader community – depression, compulsive gambling, drug and alcohol abuse. Now, we are being squarely faced with the painful reality that sexual abuse is also rearing its ugly head in our Torah community.

This does not represent a failure of our chinuch system or a breakdown of our mesorah (tradition). Not by any means. By virtue of the moral compass of our Torah and the nature of our sheltered society, we have a lower percentage of these issues than the general population. Less, but not none. Unfortunately, the nature of this challenge is that less turns to more – exponentially – the longer that we ignore these issues. This is true all the more so in the case of abuse since untreated victims are far more likely to abuse others.

To address your first question of, “How prevalent is abuse in our community?” my response is that it is far more prevalent than we care to accept or believe. I assure you that things will not improve until we gather the energy and courage to change the culture of denial and stop the destructive habit of hoping that problems will self-correct and go away. I am equally certain that if we do not act to eradicate abuse from our community, others will continue to do it for us in very public and embarrassing ways.

It is extremely important to note that school faculty members commit only a tiny fraction of the abuse perpetrated on victims. Abusers are far more likely to be older kids in the neighborhood, family friends, neighbors, peers, extended or even close family members.

How many children are we talking about? How many abuse victims are there? I posed this question to the three experts mentioned above. Each of them responded by saying that there is no research that they know of in the frum community and they have no hard numbers. But when I asked if they would say that there are a) tens, b) hundreds or c) thousands [of abused children], each responded that there are surely hundreds. In fact, Dr. Pelcovitz mentioned that he gets about 5 calls per week from parents seeking help for their abused children – or from adults seeking counseling from scars left from childhood abuse. These numbers concur with my understanding of the magnitude of the problem.

I have worked with the at-risk teen population for more than a decade now, and I think that I have a pretty good feel for the facts on the ground. I also fully understand the power of the written word and the ramifications of columns that are published. So, I am choosing my words very carefully. Here goes:

In my opinion, the number one risk factor – by far – for children abandoning Yiddishkeit is abuse and neglect. This is not to say that the majority of kids who are off the derech were abused. But of all the complex and varied educational, social and familial factors that present risk to our children, the most damaging by far, in my opinion, is abuse. The very real threat posed by external influences, such as TV, Internet, ‘bad friends’ are all firecrackers compared to the “atom bomb” of sexual abuse. Left untreated, abuse undermines a child’s security and comfort, erodes his or her faith in adult society – and in our Torah community, their belief in the Torah and in Hashem Himself. It leaves the victims confused and filled with rage. It shatters their self-esteem and destroys their ability to pursue their hopes and dreams. Sadly, the effects of abuse, especially when left untreated, usually follows children into adulthood – complicating their marriages and their relationships with their children.

There are some very practical steps that we can take to improve things and protect our children. But we need to develop the fortitude and righteous indignation to do what it takes to get it done. In my opinion, we are nowhere near that stage yet. I hope and pray that we get there very soon.

As for the question of who should take responsibility for the safety of children, I suggest that it is the parents who need to take the lead on this. Why? Because, sad to say, until there is a groundswell of support for the protection of our children, schools will find it difficult to create and implement the type of programs to teach children how to establish personal boundaries and to ensure their own safety. And, because ultimately they are our children and we are responsible for them.

Next week, in the second and final column on this subject (in this forum), I plan on offering practical steps to parents on speaking to your children and more importantly, engaging in the types of behaviors over the years that will help your children protect themselves from abuse.

© 2006 Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, all rights reserved



On a very personal note; several years ago, I prepared a few columns on the subject of sexual abuse. After much reflection, I decided not to run them, as I felt that the public was not yet ready to confront this painful reality. A few months ago, during the holy days of Rosh Hashana/Yom Kippur, as I prepared to face Hashem and give an accounting of my deeds, I was repeatedly haunted by the images of the many dozens of abuse victims that I have encountered over the years. For, I have visited substance abuse facilities where they attempted to recover from drug overdoses. I have tried my best to comfort their parents who were going through their own personal gehenom, while their children confront theirs. I paid shiva calls to bereaved parents and siblings of abused children who later committed suicide (and to those whose children’s suicides were presented to the public as death-by-other-cause).

As I davened in shul this past Yom Kippur, I kept feeling that I betrayed the victims by not publishing the columns I had written – to prevent others from being victimized and to provide a tiny measure of validation and comfort that a community leader is acknowledging their pain and the reality of their lives. I promised myself that another Yom Kippur would not go by with my silence on this matter. The response to this letter I received is a small first step in this process, and I plan on publishing the columns in the not-too-distant future.



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Related Articles:
Keeping Our Children Safe - Part Two


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1. Thank you     12/21/06 - 2:51 PM
SephardiLady - orthonomics@gmail.com

Thank you for responding to my letter. I am looking forward to the second installment (and the 8-12 page pamphlet).


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2.     12/21/06 - 6:41 PM
David Linn

One of the most painful discussions I had with my daughters took place shortly before they left for sleepaway camp. Discussing what needs to be discussed without shattering innocence, creating unfounded fears and maintaining tznius is no easy task. I too look forward to the booklet. Yasher koach on an important piece.


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3. Statistics On Child Sexual Abuse     12/21/06 - 9:58 PM
Vicki Polin - Baltimore, MD - vickipolin@aol.com

The statistics of child sexual abuse are the same in all communities no matter of how observant they are. One out of every three women and one out of every five men have been sexually abused by the time they reach the age of 18. Basically when you go to a shir with 10 women present the odds are 3 will be survivors of childhood sexual abuse. When you are in a minyan with 10 men, the odds are at least 2 will be survivors.


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4. The Awareness Center, Inc.     12/21/06 - 9:59 PM
Anonymous

You can learn more about statistics on child sexual abuse on The Awareness Center's web page. www.theawarenesscenter.org


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5. Thanks for Discussing     12/22/06 - 12:11 AM
Baruch Horowitz - Brooklyn, NY - borhowitz@yahoo.com

I appreciate that you are addressing this topic. For better or for worse, it takes time until there is a groundswell of public support to deal with difficult issues like this one, as well as the addictions mentioned at the beginning of the article.

I have heard of a frum "Twelve Steps" program dealing with various addictions, so slowly, there is recognition of communal problems. Shining the light on an issue removes the "shande" factor that places a taboo on discussing sensitive matters, which is the first step in solving problems.

I think long-lasting change will come from working within the charedi community, rather than from without--- shaming the community into making changes. Hopefully, there will be a communal hisorrerus to find fully halchic ways of bringing improvement and a fair system of dealing with the issue, which earns the public's confidence.

I thought that it was a hopeful sign that the issue of molestation was discussed on the Dov Hikind radio show, last week. They had on a therapist from Ohel who specializes in molestation issues. I was impressed that he was able to deal with and clarify the issue of inappropriate touching in an as refined way as possible, and also that the show was about prevention and awareness, as oppose to gossip and blame.


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6. Frum Survivor     12/22/06 - 8:42 AM
Anonymous

I was molested in the frum community and I had to go outside the community for help because no one who I told would believe me or help me. My offender is a well respected Rebbe and it was easier to say I was crazy than to face reality. Thank G-d I am doing very well inspite of never feeling like I really belong in the frum community. My relationship with G-d does not go through the Torah, although I have tried. I had to leave yidishkiet in order to survive. I have a lot of doubts about the Hashem of the Torah. Even though I am practicing mitzvot and my children are all in Yeshiva I don't feel frum and probably never will. To this day my frum family does not believe me and refuses to communicate with me because I have spoken out about my experience. I am glad that you are finally beginning to adress this issue. Kol Hakavod.


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7. Responible voices to speak more, and irresponsible voices need to be quite     12/22/06 - 11:32 AM
Michoel

Thank you Rabbi Horowitz for bravely stepping up to the plate. There are many irresponible voices on the various blogs that are discussing this issue. I believe that they often make the problem worse, although they dserve credit for raising community acknowledgement. When one reads in anonymous blogs or the awarenesscenter website, unsubstantiated, wild charges, it makes one think that the problem is mostly in the immaginations of embittered, formerly frum people. And that is a tradegy which causes real victims to suffer more.


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8. Impact of Child Sexual Abuse     12/22/06 - 11:58 PM
Survivor Turned Advocate

* It is estimated 60 million survivors of childhood sexual abuse live in America today.

* Approximately 31 percent of women in prison state they had been abused as children.

* Approximately 95 percent of teenage prostitutes have been sexually abused.

* Long-term effects of child abuse include fear, anxiety, depression, anger, hostility, inappropriate sexual behavior, poor self esteem, tendency toward substance abuse and difficulty with close relationships.

* Adolescents with a history of sexual abuse are significantly more likely than their counterparts to engage in sexual behavior that puts them at risk for HIV infection.

* Young girls who are forced to have sex are three times more likely to develop psychiatric disorders or abuse alcohol and drugs in adulthood than girls who are not sexually abused.

* Among both adolescent girls and boys, a history of sexual or physical abuse appears to increase the risk of eating disorders.

You can find more information here: http://www.prevent-abuse-now.com/stats.htm


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9.     12/23/06 - 12:16 AM
Sickened By Ignorance

I want to start off by saying I used to be frum. I had to leave to become whole. I don't know which was worst, my abuse or the treatment I received from religious therapists I saw when I tried to get help? I too had to get help from outside the Jewish world. Healing does not come from shaming and blaming. I can't live in a world where they practice denial.

I've been monitoring the work of The Awareness Center for some time. I think it is really interesting that the only people who state that "The Awareness Center has any unsubstantiated or wild charges" are either individuals who are actively protecting a serial pedophile, or are individuals who have never visited The Awareness Center's site. So many Yids just automatically take the world of their rebbe without checking things out for themselves.

Take time out and read each case listed. Don't just take the world of someone else. Decide for yourself.

http://www.theawarenesscenter.org/clergyabuse.html

If there is anything up there that has not been substantiated, please post it here. There is a serious problem in all Jewish communities. Unfortunately in the haradi world those that consider themselves "experts" have no clue in how to treat survivors of any kind of child abuse (emotional, physical or sexual abuse).

I'm glad to see Rav Horowitz posting this here, it is a beginning. The problem is that it is just not enough. My brothers and sisters are still being abused. No one is doing anything about it. I went to the police, but since my family is religious they are afraid to do anything about it. So each day goes by and sexual abuse is happening.


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10. Yasher Koach for your post.     12/24/06 - 4:09 AM
Jameel - muqata@gmail.com

All I can say is that it's chaval that more rabbanim aren't shouting out the message as clearly as you stated it.


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11.     12/24/06 - 6:34 AM
Anonymous

Dear Readers:

Since my Keeping Our Children Safe From Sexual Abuse column was posted, I received many emails from compassionate people looking to become part of the solution and help fund the abuse-prevention booklet that I wrote about at the end of my column. In fact, an editor who works in graphic design even offered his services to this project pro bono.

Quite a number of people requested that I create a venue for those who wish to make donations to this particular project (the abuse-prevention booklet) and/or for those who wish to fund some of the projects that I have been writing about in my columns over the past months and years.

To honor these requests and to help actualize many of my dreams for the enhancement of educational and social opportunities for Jewish children around the world, I am pleased to inform my readers that I am initiating the “Bright Beginnings Program.” (Within 30 days, I hope to post a mission statement for Bright Beginnings on my website and list details regarding some of the programs that I would like to move from concept to reality.)

In order to provide prudent financial management and oversight, I asked two highly respected askanim (lay leaders), Mr. Barry Ray (Chicago) and Mr. Mendel Zilberberg, (Brooklyn), to serve as trustees and Co-Chairman of the Bright Beginnings Program. Michael Stein, CPA, a partner at the accounting firm of Brand Sonnenschine LLP, (New York, New York) has graciously volunteered his services pro bono and will be serving as Treasurer of Bright Beginnings.

In order to provide financial reporting and transparency to current and prospective donors, Mr. Stein will be posting interim quarterly financial statements of Bright Beginnings on my website, and will be engaging the services of an outside accounting firm to conduct an annual, year-end audit, which will also be posted on my website.

Bright Beginnings will be a division of The Center for Jewish Family Life, a 501-c3 that I founded several years ago to support Jewish families in the quest to raise self-confident, well-adjusted children. Bright Beginnings will operate as a separate entity and 100% of your donation will go to funding its programs.

We welcome those who wish to contribute to the publication and (free) dissemination of the sexual abuse prevention booklet to send their contributions to:

Bright Beginnings c/o Mr. Michael Stein 377 Broadway, 9th floor N.Y., N.Y. 10013

Please make the check payable to Bright Beginnings and indicate on the stub that the funds are dedicated for the abuse prevention booklet, should you wish them to be designated for that purpose.

Thank you for your interest and may Hashem grant us our most fervent wish – that all His children realize their fullest potential.

Yakov Horowitz


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12. The Time is Now for Torat HaGolah     12/24/06 - 5:10 PM
Yisrael Medad - Shiloh, Israel - yisrael.medad@gmail.com

The idea that Torat Eretz Yisrael is superior has long been a basic principle of all Yeshivot here in Israel. However, the developments in the field of sexual abuse abroad, it seems, and the willingness of Rabbanim to place themselves in the forefront of this concern, seem to indicate an advantage. In my experience, those pushing for help for battered wives are Chutz-Laaretz trained as the social worker, for example, at the Bucharin Matnas (community center) which my class at Heb. U. visited last year found out.


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13. I thought you would find this interesting.     12/24/06 - 11:17 PM
Survivor Turned Advocate

Listing Alleged and Convicted Sex Offenders © (2006) by Vicki Polin, MA, ATR, LCPC www.theawarenesscenter.org/listingoffenders.pdf

Over the last several years there have been various individuals who have questioned why The Awareness Center has listed individuals on our web page that are both alleged and convicted sex offenders.

Answering this sort of question is very complex. One has to look at the entire picture when dealing with sex crimes. We need to look at each individual who was sexually victimized, the alleged offenders and the systems in place to handle such cases -- to help understand why The Awareness Center does what it does.

We all have to be aware that most sex crimes have never been brought to the attention of the secular legal systems (law enforcement, criminal or civil court).

According to the US Department of Justice, sixty-one percent of sexual assaults are never reported to the police. If an assault is reported, it is slightly more then a 50/50 chance that an arrest will be made. If an arrest is made, there is an 80% chance of prosecution. If there is a prosecution, there is a 58% chance of a felony conviction. If there is a felony conviction, there is a 69% chance the convict will spend time in jail. So, even in the 39% of attacks that are reported to police, there is only a 16.3% chance the rapist will end up in prison.

Given the above statistics, one has to realize the wrong question is being asked. Awareness and Education are both primary steps to ending sexual violence. The Awareness Center's goal is to prevent one more individual (adult or child) from becoming the next victim of a sex crime (child sexual abuse, sexual assault).

Below is a summary of some of the types of cases listed on The Awareness Center site. We are hoping by reviewing the list you will find answers to the question of why we list both alleged and convicted sex offenders.

Summary of some of the types of cases

- Some cases had professional boards, certifications and licenses revoked.

- Some cases went to religious courts.

- Some went to civil court.

- Some were settled out of court.

- Some the synagogues or schools dealt with the cases.

- Some are currently pending trial.

- Some charges were dropped "without prejudice" meaning the investigation is continuing.

- One case the offender confessed and charges were dropped.

- Two cases of rabbis the alleged offenders fled the country.

- A few pled guilty to lessor charges to avoid being placed on the national sex offender registry.


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14. Thank you     12/24/06 - 11:35 PM
independentfrumthinker.blogspot.com

Thank you for your willingness to discuss this issue in an intelligent manner.


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15. your facts, my dear rabbi     12/25/06 - 1:45 PM
Anonymous

Rabbi Horowitz, I will give u the benefit of the doubt here that yours was a judgement error. My issue is with your maintaining that abuse victims number in the hundreds while u claim that 1 therapist alone sees 5 new cases a week. Do the math dear rabbi and it wont take an actuary to realize the blatant contradiction. As a victim of ------ (Edited by RYH) I did a little bit of digging around and can identify a dozen victims by name. I believe that the stats quoted at Theawarenesscenter.org is far more accurate than yours and those of your therapist advisors.

Secondly, if what these therapists say is true why have they not stopped the bleeding by going to the police? Client confidentiality is not violated by alerting authorities to a crime about to be perpetrated yet keeping your client's details anonymous. Are we to assume your 3 friends are concerned about parnossa and would rather the case load keep on a healthy tempo chalila?

Third, I, like others posting elsewhere see no reason for fundraising. Your voicing opposition to the policies of the other rabbis/lemmings who sweep under carpets costs u ziltch and lawyers like Green, Passik, Lasher and Herman are willing to take up these cases. Do u think a majority of Aguda affiliated schools will allow your flyers ---- (Edited)? If u can imagine your flyer being accepted then u better raise a heck of alot of funds for have I a bridge to sell you!

If not for the fact that we victims have been terrorized to go underground I would give u my contact info so u can respond to me directly.

Let me end with congratulations in being the third rabbi affiliated with modern orthodox or less than chareidi schools to take on your original community. Rabbi Blau (black hatter charedei but mashgiach at YU) and Rabbi Dratch of JSafe have preceded u. May u be zoiche to end this immoral mess we r in. Though I believe u are sincere my caustic tone is a result of my anguish. Sorry.


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16.     12/25/06 - 2:11 PM
Anonymous

Dear Rabbi,

My apologies again for the style I used above in commenting on your post. An anguished heart influences the pen. You would be wise to read the great intellectual comments on your article being posted here:

http://hirhurim.blogspot.com


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17.     12/25/06 - 9:00 PM
Henoch Moshe Levin

I believe that yours is the most balanced view on this topic online.

I wish there were thousands, or even hundreds or tens, more like you.


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18. Jewish Survivors of Sexual Violence Speaks Out!     12/25/06 - 11:41 PM
Jewish Survivors - jewishsurvivors@gmail.com

I have to admit that I'm skeptical about this new organization being formed. All one has to do is "google" his your name to find out that you have very close ties with Agudath Israel of America.

(... Edited by YH)

I know that times are changing and perhaps so is Agudath Israel is now trying to do the right thing. I'll remain skeptical as long as the charedi community continues using the "lashon hara" rhetoric as an excuse to silence survivors.

www.jewishsurvivors.blogspot.com


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19.     12/25/06 - 11:45 PM
Anonymous

removed by YH


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20. Why are you editing my posts?     12/26/06 - 12:26 AM
Jewish Survivors

Can I ask you why you are editing my posts? jewishsurvivors.blogspot.com


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21. WARNING: Silence is Golden on this site     12/26/06 - 12:36 AM
Anonymous

Don't you realize it is not ok to mention cases on this site in which Agudath Israel failed in protecting children. Shame on you for trying to let the truth be told.

How dare you to state that you will remain skeptical as long as the charedi community continues using the "lashon hara" rhetoric as an excuse to silence survivors.

Survivors of abuse are not allowed to have a voice in the agudath world. Silence appears to be golden here.


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22. Ground Rules     12/26/06 - 12:37 AM
Yakov Horowitz - Monsey, NY

Dear Readers:

I respectfully request that all those who post comments kindly refrain from mentioning names or posting claims against any individuals or institutions. I will, with regret, turn off the blogging feature on this site if this does not stop. (As I cannot check this site during my daughter’s sheva brachos, after all :)

I think that discussions of these issues are of great importance. Therefore, I will most certainly not edit any comments that are critical of my columns, viewpoints or even my efforts to create solutions to these problems. However, I will not permit this forum to become a venue for personal attacks.

I am aware that this is a very charged and sensitive subject and emotions run high. If you review my post in its entirety, I think any objective reader will see that I have at least some understanding of the terrible carnage caused by abuse and neglect.

However, I ask for restraint and an open, respectful discussion – where we can agree to disagree.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Yakov Horowitz

P.S. Despite the demands on my time, I hope to email “Part II” this Thursday to my weekly email list and post it on this site.


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23. To: "Your facts, my dear rabbi”:     12/26/06 - 9:56 AM
Yakov Horowitz - Monsey, NY

No need to apologize at all. I did, however, feel that I needed to edit your comment. I cannot allow names of individuals or schools to remain on my site.

Several points are in order – to you, other readers, and those who posted:

1) Regarding the numbers [of victims] that I noted in my column: A careful reading of my column clearly indicates that this (“hundreds” number) was not to be regarded as a ‘hard number’ by any means. It was rather to stress the point that there are far more than a tiny amount of victims out there (and therefore worthy of seriously addressing the issue.) As for doing the math as you suggest – five times fifty-two would seem to indicate that one therapist alone receives 260 new cases each year. However, Dr. Pelcovitz is one of the acclaimed experts in the field, and not representative of the average therapist. Additionally, as I can attest from people calling my home or Project YES, there are many, many repeat calls and often multiple inquiries regarding the same ‘situation.’ Finally, the words I used in context, when I asked if they would say that there are a) tens, b) hundreds or c) thousands [of abused children], each responded that there are surely hundreds…,” hardly sounds like an attempt to minimize the issue. Quite to the contrary, I think the average reader was surprised by the significant number noted, not annoyed that I underestimated the number of victims.

2) Regarding the “fundraising” matter: In the original column, I noted that I’ve been wanting to produce a booklet for members of the Torah community that will help parents speak to their children about abuse prevention (FYI; this is for parents, not anything school-based).

Since posting the column this past Thursday, I received many responses from people who were pleased that I was considering taking concrete steps to help parents protect their children and wanted to assist with this effort. I thought that it would be prudent to create a credible, transparent entity managed by respected lay leaders and one with professional oversight in order to allow people to track the good work generated by their donations.

3) I am not a “one issue” person. I am certainly not an expert on abuse and neglect, nor do I plan on making the very noble cause of preventing abuse the primary or even secondary focus of my writing and/or time. This column is #21 in a weekly series of Q&A columns that I started a few months ago. Feel free to review the others on my site (Click here.) They are as diverse as the questions posed to me by the readers of the email columns, and I expect #23 to be on a different topic altogether.

I do, however, take my responsibilities very seriously and felt that I should not dodge a tough question regarding the topic of abuse – one that is certainly on the minds of many parents. It would have been rather convenient (and perhaps prudent) for me to refrain from responding to that question. I’m still glad that I did, and if my response helps raise awareness and prevent even one child from victimization, I will consider it to be well worth the time and energy spent writing the two columns – and responding to posted comments.

4) As far as “Bright Beginnings” is concerned, I want to make it perfectly clear that a) this is not something that I thought of or started this past week, and that b) the primary focus of this endeavor is to help Jewish children succeed in school and in life.

For the past number of years, I have written numerous articles about the urgent need to invest in the education of our children. (Click here for several sample articles: #1, #2 , #3, #4, #5 , #6, #7.)

About a year ago, I began discussions with foundations and individual prospective donors to develop programs designed to invest in our children in the areas noted below. Read "Making the Case" – a column that I published in The Jewish Press over a year ago, and you will perhaps get a better understanding of the mindset that created Bright Beginnings.

My vision for the program is to:

a) Expand our on-line listing of resources to help parents access services for their children and familes.

b) Create and disseminate quality materials to help Jewish children acquire skills for Hebrew reading, chumash and gemarah.

c) Create communities of practice for educators to exchange ideas and materials. (I already took some significant steps to begin this process and will inform my readers of this in the coming months.)

d) Create tolerance, honesty/integrity, and safety programs for Jewish children.

We have already made significant progress in the areas of the Listing of Resources (item ‘A’) and are very actively working on the preparation of materials and communities of practice (items ‘B’ and ‘C’). I plan on writing some columns on these initiatives, but I was honestly waiting until they were further developed before doing so. (See the “People helping people” section of my original post. That was my first effort to introduce the concept to the public.)

Bright Beginnings will not be limited to abuse prevention, nor will this be a major component of our efforts. However, due to the outpouring of emotions and requests to have the booklet published, I decided to move forward with item ‘D’ – the abuse prevention booklet, and I will make every effort to work with Dr. Pelcovitz and others to produce a booklet geared to help frum parents speak to their children about protecting themselves from predators. It is in this spirit that I opened Bright Beginnings to the public and invited people who wished to contribute to do so – to the production of the booklet, or other projects that I’ve written about. (Please read the text of my original post. I state that very clearly.)

Quite a number of people requested that I create a venue for those who wish to make [smaller] donations to this particular project (the abuse-prevention booklet) and/or for those who wish to fund some of the projects that I have been writing about in my columns over the past months and years.

To honor these requests and to help actualize many of my dreams for the enhancement of educational and social opportunities for Jewish children around the world, I am pleased to inform my readers that I am initiating the “Bright Beginnings Program.” (Within 30 days, I hope to post a mission statement for Bright Beginnings on my website and list details regarding some of the programs ….)

Will any or all of the things noted above happen? Only time will tell. But I can assure you that they most certainly are needed to help our children succeed in today’s challenging times (click here and here.)

I am deeply committed to devoting time, passion and energy to see that these items move from concept to reality.

Respectfully

Yakov Horowitz


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24. your facts, dear rabbi     12/26/06 - 11:40 AM
Anonymous

Thank You Rabbi for responding to my 2 posts questioning several of your statements in your original article. I profusely apologize for the negative or rather semi-sarcastic tone I had used in challenging u. It is a result of finding my mashgiach whom I was to revere, to turn out to be my molester and being spurned by rabbi's and laymen whom I turned to for help that has led me to question every apparent sincere effort in this issue. Nevertheless I assume full responsibility for my confrontational airs and wish u lots of hatzlocha in this and other areas. You very correctly identified that many areas of our children's chinuch require retuning and look forward to seeing your planned publications etc. However, I am still waiting for the day that someone will deal with the ignorance of our infallible rabbis and get them to deal with this problem agressively. So far all that is being done to date is parents being lectured to and bloggers being condemned at conventions. Perhaps for starters, rabbis should listen to the halachic shiur given by rabbi herschel Schachter of YU which is readily available online.

I can state with certainty that countless victims would find a degree of closure if our rabbis were to acknowledge the wrongs they have commited while gainfully employed in the "CARPET SWEEPING" business and reach out to those hurting. Perhaps some well placed lawsuits will eventualy emit said response, as a result of making it a viable financial oppurtunity when included in a settlement.


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25. After Public Recognition, Change Takes Time     12/26/06 - 12:59 PM
Baruch Horowitz - Brooklyn, NY - borhowitz@yahoo.com

"So far all that is being done to date is parents being lectured to and bloggers being condemned at conventions. Perhaps for starters, rabbis should listen to the halachic shiur given by rabbi herschel Schachter of YU which is readily available online."

I heard RHS' shiur as well. Nevertheless, the RW needs to get guidance from it's own Poskim and then set up a permanent Beis Din that interacts with professionals and the leagal system, that earns the confidence of the public, is perceived as effective, and is also transparent, as much as is possible.

I think it takes at least three or four months to set up such a system. Right now the good thing is that even in the charedi community, there is a groundswell of grass-roots awareness, and the words "sexual abuse" are no longer treated as a "shande".

If you live in New York, listen this coming Saturday night(12/30 at 11.00PM-12AM) to the Dov Hikind Radio Show(570 AM). Assemblyman Hikind is addressing the issue, and will have on a panel of professionals from Ohel. He plans on doing another show as well, where he will interview someone who was abused. If there wasn't a new communual recognition of the problem, he would never be able to go ahead with these programs.


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26. FINALLY!!     12/26/06 - 1:21 PM
Anonymous

Finally we have a respected mechanech like Rabbi Horowitz shlita raise this sensetive topic of kedushas yisroel in our tight knit community. mimenu yilmedu!!


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27. it's abut time     12/26/06 - 1:45 PM
Anonymous

it's abut time we wake up and adres a sencitife ishue that unfortinatly is SO comon. we parents and MELAMDIM need the guidence of our Gedoylim.


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28. Yasherkoyach     12/26/06 - 5:44 PM
Impressed

Rabbi Horowitz, I hope you're in touch with this organization, they have a lot of experience which might help you in your new direction. Kol HaKavod.

http://ccrw.1202.org.il/English/template/default.asp?siteID=8&catId=36&maincat=13


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29. There Are Solutions     12/26/06 - 7:29 PM
Elliot Pasik, Esq. - Long Beach, NY - efpasik@aol.com

Rabbi Horowitz writes an important column.

A pamphlet for parents is a good idea. We also need age-appropriate pamphlets for children, teaching them about reproduction, and how to avoid abuse. There is much like this in the general market, but not for frum children.

Pamphlets can help, but they are not a panacea. I once recall a speaker - maybe Dr. Pelcovitz - describe the following experiment. A class of young children was taught how to avoid abuse, e.g., don't talk to strangers, don't get into cars you don't know, etc. Class ended, and the children went outside. A man standing next to a truck told the children he had some cute pets inside, which the children might want to see. Most of the children went into the truck.

This true experiment is reminiscent of what occurred to 8 year old Megan Kanka in 1994. A man moved into the neighborhood, and invited Megan to see his new dog. Once inside, she was raped and murdered. This horrific crime led to the first Megan's Law, in New Jersey, requiring community notification when a convicted sex offender moves in; and an Internet registry of sex offenders.

Dr. Pelcovitz also once described an incident in a yeshiva where a rebbe was teaching gemara, and instructed the class to skip a passage. The boys laughed, and one called out, Rebbe, we know more about that subject than you'll ever forget. After class, the rebbe carefully interviewed the boy, and learned that a janitor had been abusing many boys. Later it was learned that the janitor was a convicted sex offender, from another state.

There are legal solutions to our problem. Background checks - so we don't hire convicted sex offenders - are one such tool. There are 500,000 convicted sex offenders in the United States. I recently had a hand in getting New York State to pass a law that now allows all New York nonpublic schools to fingerprint and perform FBI checks on their prospective employees. The new law is effective July 1, 2007. Utilizing this new law is essential.

We also need uniform, enforceable internal rules, governing our schools, which prohibit one-to-one faculty-student contact. These rules need to be circulated to all school employees, parents, and to children in an age-appropriate manner.

We need an internal disciplinary system, and registry. Credible complaints of abuse made against school employees need to be resolved in a neutral, unbiased forum, and employees found guilty should be placed on a registry permanently banishing them from chinuch. Child sex abusers have been known to move from one yeshiva to another. Only a registry can stop this.

We also need to give up naive ideas of pedophiles doing teshuva, to such an extent that they can be allowed to work near children. Pedophiles have a high rate of repeat offending, and just as a recovering alcoholic (they are never recovered) should not work in a bar, the same mostly common-sense rule should apply to our school employees.

Additional government oversight is additionally needed. Mandatory reporting laws, for example, need to be extended to the nonpublic schools.

Rabbi Horowitz's acknowledgment of the problem is essential for solving it. Our community must acknowledge the numbers, the broken lives, and the suicides. I too once thought the problem was small, an aberration even, but I was wrong. Dr. Pelcovitz receiving 5 calls per week is a troubling report, to say the least. And there are other psychologists out there, obviously.

Mostly, our community needs to dig down deep within itself, and find the will to apply the educational, legal, and other solutions that can finally eradicate this problem.


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30. I'm trying to understand what you are really doing. . .     12/26/06 - 11:51 PM
Jewish Survivors

Excuse me for being naive and asking you the following questions. You stated on your blog:

1) I needed to edit your comment. I cannot allow names of individuals or schools to remain on my site.

Why can't you allow names of individuals or schools on your site? One of the keys to prevention is warning parents and community members that there is a problem, and that someone they know and love might be molesting their neighbors children. Don't you think it's wise to alert the communities of the problems? OK, so you chased a sex offender out of your town, but aren't you concerned about the new community he moved in to?

2) Regarding the numbers [of victims] that I noted in my column. . .

Well, take the number of orthodox women in the world and the number of orthodox men. Statistically a third of the women and a fifth of the men were sexually abused as children. That's the answer you need to be addressing.

As for Dr. Pelcovitz, exactly what is his education and training in working with sex abuse? How long has he been working in the victimization field? From what I've found he's really only qualified to be working in the general mental health field. He really doesn't have the background is child abuse or neglect. I have to admit that I am not impressed by the "experts" you keep referring to.

3) I noted that I've been wanting to produce a booklet for members of the Torah community that will help parents speak to their children about abuse prevention. . . I am not a “one issue” person. I am certainly not an expert on abuse and neglect, nor do I plan on making the very noble cause of preventing abuse the primary or even secondary focus of my writing and/or time.

OK, now you got me really worried. You want to write a booklet about abuse prevention, you say you are not an expert on abuse and neglect, and you don't plan on becoming one. So why are you qualified to write a much needed booklet on this topic? First off there are tons of booklets out there created by extremely qualified individuals. Why are you recreating the wheel?

4) I do, however, take my responsibilities very seriously and felt that I should not dodge a tough question regarding the topic of abuse.

I'm happy you said this, but you should be working closely with the New York Coalition Against Sexual Assault. You want to make changes in the community? Please work with those who are truly experts in the field! http://www.nyscasa.org/


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31. Background Checks and Reporting Sex Crimes     12/27/06 - 12:05 AM
Jewish survivors - jewishsurvivors@gmail.com

Elliot, I have several comments to make regarding your comments on the blog. Background checks should be mandatory of anyone who works with children, teens or even impressionable young adults. Actually I think it should be a great idea to require all rabbis and hazzens prior to hiring them.

One of the major problems faced in orthodox communities is that it is frown upon to report sex crimes to secular authorities. So what good does a background check do?

There was a case a few years ago in a camp in which a rabbi molested a young boy. The boy was in cabin along with a few of his fellow young campers.

The rabbi was supposed to be supervising the boys. Instead late at night he went up to one of the boys tore his pajama bottoms the rest is history. It took the boy a few days to say something, but finally he did. Instead of doing the right thing, the camp officials destroyed the evidence.

The offending rabbi was the grandson of a world renown Torah scholar. You know how this goes, better to protect the identity of the alleged rapist then do the right thing and protect children. The camp officials were mandated reporters. They thought they were above the law. Only due to a great deal of pressure, a month later they reported the alleged crime. The rabbi was never arrested. Needless to say if you do a background check nothing will come up.

I'm sure that Rabbi Horowitz is aware of this case. If you not, just e-mail me and I'll send you all the details.


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32. Background checks on people that were never registered as molesters?     12/27/06 - 11:48 AM
Anonymous

Background checks on people that were never registered as molesters? Useless, Elliot!

Passing the Trash When Randall Crane came to teach at Jennings Middle School in Akron, Ohio, the superintendent felt lucky to get him. After all, the principal at Crane's previous school in Manchester had given him a glowing letter of recommendation, noting his "outgoing personality" and saying, "I wouldn't hesitate to hire him again." Oh, really? That same principal helped oversee an investigation into Crane's relationships with his female students, after accusations that included "too much touching of girls," "too much like boyfriend/ girlfriend," and "taking girls into rooms with the door closed." Crane denied any wrongdoing, but agreed to resign.

No one at Jennings knew about Crane's earlier conduct because, the Manchester superintendent told a local newspaper, "you don't want to pass problems on to other schools, but at the same time, you weigh that against what you can say that might cause litigation for your school too."

So Crane got his sterling recommendation and a new teaching job. Last June, he got something else: a two-year sentence for having sex with a 14-year-old student.

After being shown papers detailing Crane's inappropriate behavior in Manchester, the Akron superintendent said to a reporter, "No other district would have hired that individual knowing what you just showed me in that file."

"It's called 'passing the trash,'" says Kansas State University professor Robert Shoop, an expert witness in nearly 50 school abuse cases. "I've worked with individuals who are in their fourth or fifth district, and you find out they've been molesting people for 20 years."

This shuffling of sleazy characters from school district to school district is just one way we're failing to fully protect our children. It's no small concern: In 2004, a U.S. Department of Education study found that nearly 10 percent of public school students have endured unwanted sexual attention from school employees, and close to 7 percent had experienced actual sexual contact -- anything from pinching to kissing to outright molestation.

Let's make one thing clear: Most teachers are honest, hardworking, and truly care for their students. And it's important to protect teachers from false allegations, especially when harassment and abuse charges are used as punishment for bad grades or strict discipline.

Still, there's no denying that the threat from molesters exists in every state. In West Virginia, for example, sexual abuse of students is the No. 1 reason teachers lost their licenses over the past five years -- a whopping 35 percent of all licenses lost. And a Detroit News study found that, in the 15 months from January 2004 to April 2005, 22 present or former school employees were convicted of sexual misconduct involving minors or the mentally impaired. The vast majority were teachers, although a coach and a janitor were also among those convicted.

Perhaps the creepiest thing is all the sexual predators we don't even know about. When The New York Times recently investigated pedophiles, it found that "the most frequent job mentioned was schoolteacher." How many parents shuddered when it turned out that a slime ball named John Mark Karr -- the man who claimed to have murdered Jon Benet Ramsey -- taught elementary school?

Zero Tolerance We obviously don't have enough safeguards in place to keep perverts out of the schools. And the biggest problem is a background-check system that looks like Swiss cheese.

Most states require a criminal background check for school employees, but some schools only check state databases, not national ones like the FBI's National Crime Information Center. Schools also need to be candid about former teachers when another school inquires about an applicant.

That's how an Iowa school in the Northwood-Kensett district got burned in 2000 when a teacher, Daniel Eveleth, was accused of having a sexual relationship with an 18-year-old student. It turns out that Eveleth had been at the center of sexual controversy before. A few years earlier, court records reveal, he had been accused of sexual harassment at another Iowa public school district known as BCLUW -- a charge that investigators believed to be credible. Eveleth subsequently resigned. Yet, according to the Northwood-Kensett superintendent, before hiring Eveleth, he contacted the BCLUW school district and no red flags came up. Not only that, in exchange for his resignation, Eveleth got a positive letter of recommendation from BCLUW school officials and a promise that the district would keep mum about the accusations against him.

Appalling settlements like this aren't unusual. In many cases, the first priority of school districts is to avoid expensive battles with unions and the bad headlines that can come with legal action. So they'll let an accused teacher resign quietly, sometimes with a financial settlement. Since 2000, West Virginia schools, for example, have reportedly paid nearly $7 million in settlements to suspected sexual predators.

In the 1990s, Hofstra University professor Charol Shakeshaft studied 225 complaints against teachers where there was convincing evidence sexual abuse had occurred. In more than half, school superintendents allowed the accused teachers to resign or retire with no blemish on their records. And, Shakeshaft says, in none of those 225 cases did the superintendents notify the police, a legal mandate as of 2000.

You'd think politicians would be demanding tougher laws, but many shy away from measures like mandatory background checks, in part because they're afraid to cross powerful teachers unions.

At a minimum, schools must warn state officials when they have concerns about a teacher -- and the police should always notify schools about any troubling past charges. States might also follow the lead of New York, where a superintendent can be charged with a felony for letting a teacher resign rather than face a sexual misconduct allegation. Or Iowa, where after the Eveleth case, the state legislature passed a law saying that if an employee is terminated or resigns due to the sexual exploitation of a child, it must be reported to the Board of Educational Examiners. And, of course, any principal caught "passing the trash" should get the book thrown at him too.

It's easy to say we have zero tolerance for sexual predators in schools, but we haven't yet passed the test.


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33. Background Checks Are A Partial Solution     12/27/06 - 3:25 PM
Elliot Pasik, Esq. - Long Beach, NY - efpasik@aol.com

Both Jewish Survivor and Anonymous comment that background checks are an incomplete answer to the problem. Agreed. Its one tool among others.

JS says that because orthodox communities don't report molesters to the police, a background check will not discover a molester who has not been convicted of any crime. I agree in part.

In my humble opinion, there is some misunderstanding of the halachic rules of mesira. The list of rabbis saying it is not mesira to report a child sex abuser to the police is growing, and include, Rav Schacter, Rav Elyashiv, Rav Gifter, ztl, and there are others. Rabbi Broyde wrote a long article on this, available on JLaw.com, which collects all the opinions. The list of rabbis saying it is not mesira to report to civil authorities is even longer.

In my humble opinion, the barrier to victims not reporting molesters is mostly cultural. Anthropologists and sociologists can probably discuss this issue better than I can, but I believe there is a deep-seated human instinct not to "squeal" on a fellow member of whatever "tribe" you belong to. We Jews are not the only ones to encounter this issue, far from it. I recall a Sports Illustrated article in the late 90s discussing the notorious case of a California Boy Scout leader who was abusing many boys. One father got suspicious, did a background check, and discovered he was a convicted sex offender. Even after he informed other parents, he was met with denial and disbelief. They even refused to fire him, let alone contact the police!

What's critical is informing the public that fingerprinting, FBI background checks, and Internet Megan's Law registries do work. As word spreads, people will understand that if you do successfully prosecute a molester, he will have a criminal record, he will get on the Internet Megan's Law registry, and millions of American children will be protected. Nearly all schools and many other employers are performing these checks. We Jews are way behind in this area.

Rockland County, New York is a good example of the effectiveness of the Megan's Law registry, which is found on the website of the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services. Search for Rockland County, and you will find six convicted sex offenders, with frum, Jewish names and faces.

A caveat is that there are no "Mandatory Prosecution" laws. The victim of any crime is free not to call the cops. For sex crimes, a complaining victim is almost always necessary. The sex abuse victim may not want to relive the nightmare of the crime by going through the criminal justice system. That is his or her absolute legal right. The victim can be encouraged to prosecute, but not required.

JS describes a molestation case in a camp, and complains that the camp, despite being a mandated reporter, was slow in reporting it. I question the year of its occurrence, perhaps the mandatory reporting law did not apply then, but in any event, there is also a widespread lack of knowledge about who is and who isn't a mandatory reporter. Clearly, we need better education about this.

Anonymous writes about "Passing the Trash". The NY Times did a long series about this, and its in my file. Yes, our yeshivas and day schools are culpable for passing the trash, because without a disciplinary system and registry, how do we keep track of who's kosher, and who's treif? We're putting holograms on kosher meat, but doing little about sexual predators. This makes no sense. At a minimum, employee resumes and references need to be scutinized, and some schools do this, and some don't.

The article Anonymous pastes in references the best report I've come across in surveying the child sex abuse problem. It is, "Educator Sexual Misconduct: A Synthesis of Existing Literature", authored by Prof. Charole Shakeshaft of Hofstra University. It is 150 pages plus, published by the U.S. Dept. of Education in June 2004, and it is devastating. It is on the DOE website, or you can just Google the words, and click onto it. You will read that we Jews are not alone in our problem, but we are almost alone in doing so little about it.


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34. Source     12/27/06 - 4:29 PM
Anonymous

http://www.ed.gov/rschstat/research/pubs/misconductreview/report.pdf

The above is the article referenced by Elliot Pasik.

The frum oylam should not be mollofied by Rabbi Horowitz's efforts. He is to be commended for his work, but as he himself said he is not dedicating himself to this issue and next week it will be a different topic. Don't let your guard down. Keep up the pressure. Get people like Elliot Pasik and Nachum Klafter to come and visit our schools and askanim. We need more professionals in this area to be accepted and wanted by the hamon am.


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35. Who are the Jewish Experts in Child Molestation?     12/27/06 - 7:35 PM
Jewish Survivors

I want to point out that the only experts I know in the area of child molestation who are Jewish seem not to be our rabbis, with the exception of Rabbi Yosef Blau. He seems to be the only one who seems to "get it".

I've spoken to Dr. Michael Salamon a few times on the phone. I was testing him out. He seems to get it too. There's also Vicki Polin at The Awareness Center. She's been doing this stuff for over 20 years. Then there's Dr. Vivian Skolnick in Chicago (a frum therapist). Psychiatrist - Judith Herman who wrote "Trauma and Recovery" is also someone who should be contacted if you really want to educate our communities. Laura Davis, who is a co-author of book "The Courage To Heal" can also be seen as an expert. If I remember correctly she grew up observant (or at least her offender was).

You really want to make a difference? You really want to put together information about sex abuse, these are the people you should be consulting with.


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36. Thank You, Elliot!     12/28/06 - 1:08 PM
Anonymous

I'm the anonymous blogger above who criticized your work. I appreciate your frank and brave acknowledgment of our failed system that failed me when I too ran to the rabbis to have my molester removed as mashgiach of a popular yeshiva. I have been following your work this past year and applaud your efforts if the intention is to follow up with more concrete ideas and CHANGES to reporting policies amongst the frum community. It was brought to my attention that you are part of the Eric Green practice that has filed a suit recently. If that is true than obviously u are sincere and are more than just words if and when a casr is actionable upon. Can u confirm this please?


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37. Response to Anonymous Inquiry     12/28/06 - 6:14 PM
Elliot Pasik, Esq. - Long Beach, NY - efpasik@aol.com

Thank you for the kind remarks, Anonymous (12/28/06 at 1:08 p.m.). Please feel free to contact me utilizing my email address, efpasik@aol.com, with your inquiry. I can also give you my phone number.


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38.     1/2/07 - 8:13 PM
Anonymous

Elliot, thank you for the invitation to contact you. I don't feel comfortable communicating directly with individuals for reasons of my safety. I don't know you. If you want to communicate with me you can do so here.


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39. Response to Anonymous Inquiry     1/3/07 - 10:17 PM
Elliot B. Pasik, Esq. - Long Beach, N.Y. - efpasik@aol.com

Anonymous - Particularly as a lawyer, I'm under a duty to observe the express and implied rules of the forum. A side-conversation between you and me about my private law practice would seem to go beyond the scope of the forum that Rabbi Horowitz has created for comments about the issues raised in his articles, even given the wide latitude that the rabbi has shown here in permitting many types of opinions to be aired. I think Rabbi Horowitz deserves great credit for this.

Nevertheless, let me try to respond this way. The website of the New York State Unified Court System maintains a registry database of all licensed New York attorneys, which provides their business adresses, and other pertinent information. (The NYS Health Department and Education Department maintains similar registries for other professionals, e.g,. physicians, dentists, nurses, etc.)


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40. communicating     1/4/07 - 12:47 AM
Jewish Survivors - JewishSurvivors@gmail.com

Elliot,

I do not talk to individuals on the phone. If you want to communicate with me you can send an email. My email address is pubic and also available on my blog. http://www.jewishsurvivors.blogspot.com


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41. Up to Parents     1/4/07 - 1:22 PM
Anonymous - new york

Parents, nobody can protect your children but you. Nobody. You must drill it into your children until it is part of there programing.

Teachers, Rebbeim, never let yourself be Secluded with a student ever. There are students who come to me and wan't to close the door for privacy and I absolutly refuse. I know one of the "alleged" abusers on the awareness center's website personally, He was investigated by local police and they found no evidence of wrongdoing. The only thing they found that was inapropriate was that he tickled little girls on there belly (I do this to my own daughter). a few members of his community went after him because of a dispute over the eruv. He left himself open to this atack because he allowed the little kids come sit on his lap during services. Do no do this! There is no way for anyone to know if you did something wrong or not if you are alone with a student, or touch them in any way no matter how inocent it might seem to you, and parents must protect their children.


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42. Frum family abuse needs to be tackled!     7/9/07 - 8:55 AM
Naomi - London

As a teenager I was sexually and physically abused by my younger brother. I told my parents who refused to believe me and actually punished me for telling them. The abuse persisted for at least a year until I went to seminary. I can frankly say that the abuse and my parents determination not to address it destroyed my life. Even now in my forties I am still suffering from it. At the time I knew that I could not confide in any one over the abuse - it would have been too much of a shandeh for my meyuchasdikeh family and probably no-one would believe it. The abuse prevented me from forming much of a relationship with my husband and divorce followed quickly. For years I never had much success in personal relationships and drifted away from Yiddishkeit. Only now in my early forties have I had my first real emotionally involved relationship and that is with a non-Jew. I have not even told him yet about my teenage abuse because I don't want him to think badly of Yidden. Quite obviously because of the abuse I suffered I stopped wanting involvement with my family. It hurt me so much that my parents chose to ignore my pleas to them for help. I've often reflected on how differently things might have turned out if I had not been abused. I'm sure that I would have been a happily married frum woman in other circumstances!


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43. tackled     7/9/07 - 9:09 AM
Anonymous

very sad :(((

How do you think frum family abuse should be tackled?

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