Friday, June 8, 2012

Abuse:Halachic & Ethical Dilemmas II

Pitputim Guest Post - Thanks to all who commented on the first scenario. Consider, now, a new scenario.

Your daughter is showing signs of strain. She has not been herself for some time. You have tried all manner of parental approach: the stick and the carrot and you can’t seem to manage to cajole her to be on the same page as you and your husband. She is also not performing to her ability at school.

You become aware of rumours that a male associated with your daughter’s school has been exposing himself and may well have fondled or even forced himself on some girls. When you hear these rumours you are in a state of disbelief. You cannot imagine that this apparently fine and upstanding individual would do such things. If he did, then you conclude that he must be sick or have experienced some trauma that has scrambled his moral compass.

One day your daughter casually mentions that the said person approached her and attempted to interfere with her. You aren’t sure whether actual interference has taken place. On the other hand, this may well explain her unusual behaviour and lack of focus. Given the rumours, you run to the School and meet with the powers that be. They tell you that there have been issues with this person and that he is receiving treatment and the strong indications are that this earlier behaviour will no longer be manifest. It’s a close-knit school where each parent knows the other and shares strong common ideals. The school did not contact the police because they felt they were dealing with it internally through professionals. Their Rabbi forbade “Mesira” anyway and there was no mandatory reporting in place. [Click for full posting]


  1. What does the law of the land say to do?
    I would recommend the parents take this girl to her family doctor. If he/she can get her to speak openly about what happened, great. If not, refer her to a counsellor specializing in this area.
    If she says that she was indeed "interfered" with, follow the mandatory state reporting laws.

  2. The school has a moral obligation to insure the safety of their children regardless of mandatory reporting. One of the suggestions was that the actual molestation may not have happened. That, my dear friends, is completely irrelevant. We are observing the "terror" aspect of this, in which victims are living in constant fear. This is unacceptable. This requires immediate and direct intervention. The perp should be caught and subjected to the extremes of what our laws allow, even if not a single child was ever touched.

    Professional intervention for the perp is wonderful, but that alone does not guarantee the safety of the children - the school's first obligation to its students.

  3. What about parents. Can they be held accountable if they allow this child and others to continue in the School given such a situation? Can children say, "Given the situation, why did you not take me out of the school, why did you allow my siblings to stay in the School" Is it all about the School only?


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