In a Baltimore shul, pictures are regularly posted of convicted sex offenders living in the neighborhood – but the pictures of the Jewish offenders are removed. In Lakewood, a chain phone call recently went out warning parents that a molester had moved into their neighborhood, but he was not identified because “it is lashon hara.”
Some may argue that the government’s Megan’s Law registry of sex offenders has not proved effective in decreasing child sex abuse. But in our tight-knit frum community, where an individual who is caught selling treif chicken is tarred and feathered, thus assuring that nobody will ever trust him to sell meat again, a rabbinic pronouncement that Ploni and Almoni are “not recommended” as safe to be alone with children would surely give parents a fighting chance. It would at the very least assist schools, camps and youth groups that earnestly want to screen out known molesters from being hired.
Child molestation may be an illness, but covering it up is just plain wrong.
Dr. Asher Lipner is a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice who specializes in treating survivors of sexual abuse and their families in the Orthodox community. He is executive vice president of the Jewish Board of Advocates for Children and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.