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September 16, 2014 / 21 Elul, 5774
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A Time for Zero Tolerance and a Time for Tolerance

When it comes to victims of abuse the overriding approach should be one of compassion and understanding. But school officials' mishandling of a situation should not automatically result in termination.
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But since I am not personally a victim, I am still loathe to criticize any victim for expressing their pain in any way they choose. As long as it does not hurt innocent people in the process. If for example she put into the public sphere torrid details of her abuse for all to read including children – how does that help her? These are the kind of details you save for the police and the courts when prosecuting the abuser. Or the kind of details you share with mental health professionals.

All of these issues can be resolved with compassion and sympathy in my view. That was the real problem here. It was not so much what they were asking her to do, but they way in which they asked her to do it.

I can understand why the reaction by the school was so harsh. But in my view the school’s reaction was still inappropriate. When it comes to victims of abuse the overriding approach should be one of compassion and understanding. The school could have accomplished its goals without seeming to be so insensitive.

That said, I would in no way call for any disciplinary actions against any of the officials in the school. They are all good people. The only thing I would ask is that an apology to the student be issued for the insensitive remarks made to to her. Furthermore – although I think the school is within their rights to ask the student to refrain from using social media to express her pain while enrolled at the school, I would urge them not to pursue any sanctions against her for doing it.

Unless the officials themselves or one of their own children were sexually abused – no one there knows what she went through – or what she is still going through. Compassion dictates that sometimes one must look the other way.

But at the same time I reject the slash and burn attitude I so often see expressed by some victims advocates. This attitude helps no one.

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah, where this blog was originally published under the title, “A Sex Abuse Victim’s Challenge on Facebook,” March 1, 2013.

About the Author: Harry Maryles runs the blog "Emes Ve-Emunah" which focuses on current events and issues that effect the Jewish world in general and Orthodoxy in particular. It discuses Hashkafa and news events of the day - from a Centrist perspctive and a philosphy of Torah U'Mada. He can be reached at hmaryles@yahoo.com.


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Binyamin and Chaya Maryles, uncle and aunt of Emes Ve-Emunah author Harry Maryles.
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