Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Children's Book on Child Abuse sells out

Haaretz   The success of a new book aimed at helping ultra-Orthodox parents teach their children how to protect themselves from sexual abuse is a strong indication that a community once reluctant to acknowledge the crime is now beginning to face reality. 

The book, "Mutav Lehizaher K'dei lo Lehitzta'er" (which translates roughly as "Better Safe Than Sorry" ), published privately by Ella Bargai and Nitai Melamed, appears to be making significant progress in making the issue less of a taboo topic within the Haredi world. 

The book has the backing of rabbis across the Haredi spectrum - Hasidic, Lithuanian and Sephardi leaders alike - and copies were snapped up as word of it spread. The book has sold out its first printing and will be reissued soon. 

"In this book we want to talk about your body's private areas. Do you know what your private areas are?" the book asks. "Your private areas of your body are those that are supposed to be covered when you are dressed. Nobody has any right to touch your body's private areas and you are not supposed to touch those areas on anyone else."

The book's biggest accomplishment, according to Melamed, is that it gives parents and teachers a language with which to discuss issues that the Haredi community generally ignores. 


  1. "Do you know what your private areas are?" the book asks. "Your private areas of your body are those that are supposed to be covered when you are dressed."

    This looks like a rather cryptic explanation, especially in a hareidi context where all the body is covered at all times...

    Is this the book that explains body parts without naming them? Might be somewhat counter-productive...

    1. this is the standard approach - see the video of Rabbi Yaakov Horowitz. The Aleinu program of Debbie Fox which just was adopted by New York City frum schools uses it. It seems to work.

    2. i think the standard approach is: the parts covered by your bathing suit - but then those children might not be familiar with that concept either...

      but here you tell them that it is wrong for a friend to grab your arm, etc...

    3. Perhaps the message is that unwanted touch is as relevant as intrusive touch. For those that understand a bit more about molestation, there is a phase prior to actual sexual abuse called "grooming". While this includes buying gifts, doing favors, giving inordinate amounts of attention, praise, support, it often times involves non-sexual touch. During such behavior, the menuval is testing the boundaries in order to progress gradually and eventually "score". I believe other approaches that omit noticing of grooming behavior miss a critical point. I also believe that the rabbonim that advise on this subject are uneducated and uninformed that this is part of abuse. They are more prone to dismiss non-sexual touch as irrelevant - what a serious mistake.

  2. A Yiddish version is needed too.


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