Thursday, May 03, 2007

Responding to Abuse

The current issue of The Jewish Press has a letter from Faye Wilbur, of the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services, in response to Elliot Pasik's letter last week (link):

Re Elliot Pasik’s “How to Eradicate Abuse in Our Communities” (op-ed, April 27):

As an active member of the Task Force on Families & Children at Risk, I would like to assure Mr. Pasik that there is a lot of work being done in New York to protect our children. For many years we have been sponsoring educational symposia for mechanchim/mechanchot, rebbetzins, and the lay community abuse as well as on many other issues.

On May 9, my agency, the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services, will be hosting a similar program focused on prevention for the Queens community with Dr. David Pelcovitz as a presenter. Later in the month, the task force will be presenting a prominent rav and Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski to speak with mechanchim/mechanchot on this topic.

We in the frum mental health community have been responding, and the attitude of our rabbonim has likewise shifted. While the shift may not be as swift or as public as we might like it to be, I believe that, after 120 years, many members of the community will be able to respond confidently when we are asked “Ayeka?”

Faye Wilbur, LCSW
Boro Park Office
Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services
This is nothing short of infuriating. First of all, as a parent with children in Brooklyn yeshivas, why have I never heard of any of these educational symposia? Why have the teachers and principals with whom I have discussed this issue never heard of them? And, if they are so successful, why is there an eighth grade rebbe in a prominent yeshiva who is still allowed to have his students sit on his lap and rub his back (as told to me by a parent who complained to the administration and was ignored)? Why was a known sexual abuser run out of one town--a huge step--but not kept track of so that he is certainly living in another frum community, probably in Israel?

What I suspect is that this organization is full of well-meaning, tirelessly working people who are trying to do whatever they can to solve communal problems but will not, by any means, rock the boat or use any unconventional approaches. Yesterday's paradigms of change have proven ineffective. We need to think outside the proverbial box and do something that works.

Have attitudes shifted on this issue? Yes. And it is not due to any organization but to a single blogger who has gone much farther than I will but has gotten much better results than I ever will. Even if you disagree with him, try learning from him. Because he's gotten results while we've just run into one brick wall after another while children are suffering.

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