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← Ultra-Orthodox Shun Their Own for Reporting Child Sexual Abuse

godzillatemple's Avatar Jump to comment 29 by godzillatemple

Just to play devil's advocate for a bit...

Traditionally, Jewish communities have been very insular with a (frequently justified) distrust of outsiders. Reporting a crime to outside authorities has historically led to attacks against the entire Jewish community, and as a result there is a sense that any crime that would portray Jewish people in general in a bad light must not be shared with the outside world lest it bring very real harm to the community as a whole. And by "very real harm" I'm talking about about mass executions, deportations, etc. Historically, it's a very real concern and not something to be laughed at.

Having said that, there are two things to consider:

  1. Jewish communities living in New York are not at risk for the same type of retaliation as those in Europe and Asia in previous centuries. So, although I can understand where this "don't tell outsiders our shame" attitude comes from and agree that it is a justified attitude, I also think that perhaps it's time to join the 21st century and acknowledge that it's no longer an issue.

  2. The whole "don't tell outsiders our shame" attitude presupposes that the matter can and will be resolved internally to the community. Children who are abused, as well as their parents, are encouraged to report the matter to their local rabbinical authorities, and those authorities are supposed to take actions against the accused where the allegations are credible. This, in my opinion, is where the biggest problem lies -- those in authority are either unable or unwilling to perform their sacred duties to protect the innocent and punish the abusers. If the abusers were publicly identified within the community, ostracized and prevented from any further contact with children instead of being protected, I don't think there would be that much outrage about not telling the police. Instead, though, the victims are being blamed and, in at least some cases, being told to apologize to the abusers! And the abusers are left to continue their abuse with other children.

Sadly, there's no way to force rabbinical authorities to actually perform their duties with regard to those who abuse children. As a result, I agree the only alternative is to force them -- under penalty of law -- to report abuse to outside authorities whether they like it or not. Hopefully, time will show them that the initial point I made about life in 21st century America is valid.

Fri, 11 May 2012 13:27:16 UTC | #941017