We cannot go on being sad but accepting as we lose our smartest, sweetest children – children from beautiful homes filled with warmth and Yiddishkeit. It is too easy to simply blame child. Not only is it too easy, it’s wrong.

We need to have the courage to ask why – and then confront the ugly truth of the answer. No doubt it is shocking, painful, frightening. But until we do this, until we diagnose the problem, there can be no healing. Our experts tell us in no uncertain terms that fully 80 percent of all off-the-derech children have experienced some form of abuse.

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If there is to be a focus of our hurt, anger and retribution, it should be on the reality of this statistic. The scandal is that such a thing happens in our community, not that the children affected by it react with their own anger, pain, and shame. And rebellion.

Let us reject our own shame and face this terrible reality, for our sake and the sake of our children. Only then can we accompany them back to where they belong, with us in our homes, living a Torah life.

When you determine you will face the truth with your child, that child will know it. As God’s presence has comforted the Children of Israel throughout the darkness of our exile, so too will your presence comfort your child.

What to do if your child “rebels”? What to do if your child goes off the derech? Love him. Comfort her. And if that does not seem to work? Love him more. Comfort her more. And find out what happened.

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