The rambling thoughts of a Modern Orthodox Chassid (whatever that means). Contact me at emansouth @

Friday, June 22, 2012

So, Where DO We Start?

A few groundrules:

This thread is not about Chareidi bashing.  It is designed to address a specific problem in our tribe.  (It is foolish to believe that, even with the progress the MO world has made, the issue of abuse does not effect that world.  Guess what?  It does).

Consequently, if the conversation degenerates into Chareidi bashing, I will take my marbles and go home.  I am hoping to have a positive, meaningful discussion in which ideas are exchanged and solutions (or at least partial solutions) are sought.

With that as background, I asked a young family therapist I know and respect who deals with these issues where he thought we should start. 

He noted, first, that the blog will attract like minded people and I will likely end up merely preaching to the choir.  He warned me not to aim to high:  The institutional issues are, at least in the short and medium term, intractable.  If I focus on those issues, this will become a screed.

He suggested that the first place I may consider taking the discussion is a focus on the responsibilities that we have as parents. "Parents are the only ones in the entire world whose sole consideration [vis a vis their children] is the well being of their children.  They need to internalize the uncomfortable truth that even the people whom we respect do not have our children's safety at the same level on their priority list".  Unless this fundamental point is digested and believed, it will be difficult to get anything done.

How to do this is the challenge, especially in sectors of our society where there is a very significant reliance on the leadership and where spreading that word would almost necessarily require the cooperation of leadership.


  • At 11:09 AM, Anonymous retired loan trader said…

    Very wise comment from the therapist. Institutions will not become sensitive to the issue until parents demand it. I recall a few years ago getting incensed at her for not insisting/demanding that her parents withdraw her younger siblings from a prominent Brooklyn Yeshiva (still with the same administration!--well "owner') that employed a known (at least to the administration) molester who had attacked children in camps and schools for decades.

    As a parent, I hoped that my children would be educated in school, that they would find a caring and nurturing environment and that they would grow. At a bare minimum I expected that they would protect my children. How can parents say "well on the one hand my sons is learning a blatt of gemorah a week, but on the other hand the fourth grade Rebbi molests kids; I suppose on balance it is ok..."! In my view parents must withdraw their children from institutions that tolerate any sort of abuse.

    I'm not saying strict liability. If something tragic happens parents need to judge a school by the actions it takes in response. if there is "raglayim l'dover" schools must immediately fulfill their legal reporting obligations and place the implicated staff on leave until the matter is sorted out. As parents we can not stand to allow institutions to sweep tragic things under the rugs in the interest of preserving the institutions good name at the expense of our children's safety.

  • At 11:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You have to allow for situations where a parent doesn't care enough about his/her kids or actively hurts them.

  • At 10:21 AM, Blogger عبده العمراوى said…

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