This past week was filled with discussions and presentations of a topic that we must address, and address in a comprehensive manner, as part of our responsibility to the children we love. Child abuse occurs all too often – the good news is there is something to be done about it.
We heard this week that sexual abuse is more likely to occur in a community that does nothing about it, and is much less likely to occur in a community that does something about it. That places an obligation on every individual member of the community to be involved in some way, to reduce the likelihood of abuse occurring. With Hashem’s help, we were able and have taken the steps to do something about it, to work at creating a safer environment.
We salute the volunteers who underwent extensive training and gave up much of this week to observe and ultimately present the program to the children. Their involvement now and in the future, bespeaks a passion to protect our children and to elevate our community to one of safety and kedusha. It is my prayer that they continue their involvement and form the nucleus of an advocacy group that will help further safety protocols and awareness in our schools, shuls and community.
To the more than 150 parents who attended Monday night’s training, your attendance and concern for this issue sends a strong message that we are united in our efforts to address this challenge in a mature, reasoned and forthright manner. By equipping ourselves with the awareness, tools and understanding of how our children can stay safe, we are creating an environment where perpetrators will realize they cannot succeed with their heinous plans, and will leave our community IY’H.
Our staff of 75 teachers, assistants, secretaries, sports coaches, guidance counselors, specialty instructors and administrators gave of their own time for training and have been following through to gauge student feedback and to be sensitive to and aware of any concerns students may express or merely hint at, to see if anyone needs further attention. They are our front lines of defense and have gained invaluable additional tools to be able to detect anything untoward going on in a child’s life, to be sensitive and caring, even more than before.
All of us can take pride and comfort in being a part of a community-wide effort that is tackling a most vexing problem within our community with sanity, insight and sensitivity. I urge you, the parents to further these efforts by bringing safeguards into all areas of our children’s life – on the playgrounds, camps, shuls, youth groups and everywhere else where children interact and may be accessible to other adults, with minimal supervision. We stand ready to assist in these efforts.
With best wishes for a Shabbos of Blessing,
Rabbi Kalman Baumann