Monday, August 2, 2010

Sex abuse - growing problem in religious sector


Far from newspaper headlines, several sexual abuse cases involving children and teens exposed in national-religious sector. Rabbis blame porn websites, while new program attempts to tackle phenomenon for first time, without using word 'sex'

When the nightmare began, Shlomo (not his real name) was sure he could still put an end to it: One slap or a serious talk and the child would surely understand there's something utterly wrong with his behavior.[...]


  1. I'm confused.

    First, the article states:
    "Dr. Aviad Hacohen, dean of the Sha'arei Mishpat College and member of the Takana forum fighting sexual abuse in the religious sector, has studied the phenomenon and stated in 2007 that 95% of sexual offences in Jerusalem were performed by the religious and haredi."

    Then, later, Dr. Hacohen is quoted as saying:
    "The religious public is not immune to global trends. The phenomenon which we are witnessing in the world is seeping into this sector too."

    If the prevalence of sexual offences really is higher (and not just a little higher, but much, much higher) among the religious than among the secular, it seems to me that this cannot be a simple case of global trends seeping into the religious community. What am I missing here?

  2. "An absurd situation has been created in which they get knowledge and tools from the media and other sources, which are miles away from the values of Judaism"

    As someone who has been educated in the Charedi world and who believes in appreciating the strengths, accomplishments and beauty of Charedi education, this situation causes me some degree of frustration. As I see it, there are two crucial issues which are not understood, and being addressed:

    1) The difference between seeking "shleimus", constant Torah growth, and perfectionism(see Dr. Sorotzkin's article below regarding "shelimus" in general; regarding one particularly sensitive are of sexuality in particular, see Rav Wolbe's comments in Shvile HaRefuah in footnote # 20 of the article)

    2) The difference between mussar and dealing with personal feelings. While positive, growth-oriented mussar, appropriate for our generation, is healthy, essential and a sine qua non, it is ***NOT*** the same as dealing with personal feelings.

    Dr. Moshe Halevi Spero, in "Handbook of Psychotherapy and Jewish Ethics: Halakhic Perspectives on Professional Values and Techniques" discusses examples. He notes that an adolescent yeshivah student should have no more than the normal amount of anxiety when speaking to, say, a female receptionist at his doctor's office. One might add, that he should also not feel any more than the normal amount of anxiety when walking down the street and seeing, say, modestly, dressed frum women or girls.

  3. (Cont.)

    Classic mussar education in schools or home(with perhaps the exception of those such as Rav Wolbe), totally ignore any anxiety or shame components as related to normal adolescent development. While it is true that certain cases of extreme anxiety need to be addressed professionally, a parent could benefit from the approach of Sarah Diament, just as a dentist needs to professionally take care of cavities and extractions, but notwithstanding this, parents also train their children to brush their teeth!

    A quote by Dr. Ribner illustrates my point about anxiety in the "normal range:

    "I know - at some point you had “The Discussion” with your children. So now they know some basic biology. But what about attitudes and feelings, doubts and anxieties?"(page 5 of linked article).

    My hope is that Charedi community, in its own way, will address the feelings issue, as Centrist community has done, by publishing the work of Sarah Diament. After all, Rav Chaim Brisker says, " the main role of the rabbi is to help the needy, protect the persecuted, defend the widows, and sustain orphans. In a word, it is acts of loving-kindness [gemilat hasadim].” (The World of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, 193)

  4. (Cont.)


    Dr. Ribner:,%20Ribner.doc

    Dr. Sorotzkin

    Dr. Spero

    Sarah Diament

    Dr. Twerski's Approbation


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