web analytics
August 28, 2014 / 2 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat (L) visits the JewishPress.com booth at The Event. And the Winners of the JewishPress.com Raffle Are…

Congratulations to all the winners of the JewishPress.com raffle at The Event



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Dealing With Abuse: A Proposal


Assemblyman Dov Hikind deserves credit for his attempt to deal with the issue of abuse in the Orthodox community – a community where people still refer to cancer as “yener machlah” (that disease); where mental illnesses (even those that are not genetic, such as postpartum depression) are rarely spoken of publicly; and where some parents are still afraid to have their sons and daughters tested and registered with Dor Yeshorim even though doing so might prevent a marriage resulting in children with genetic diseases.

And, of course, there are those who continue to deny that abuse exists in the community (though at the same time allegations of domestic abuse are used in many divorce cases to prevent fathers from seeing their children).

Given these circumstances, it’s not hard to understand why Assemblyman Hikind has come up against significant opposition in his attempt to deal with this issue.

In 1984, not long after I was admitted to the bar, I was employed as a law assistant to a judge in Brooklyn Family Court. The court deals with visitation, child support, juvenile delinquency and domestic and child abuse, among other matters. During the six years I worked there it was rare to see an Orthodox litigant.

After leaving my position, I returned six years later as an attorney in private practice. In the intervening years the court’s caseload had gown exponentially. The court calendars were clogged with child abuse and neglect cases against parents. Unfortunately, on any given day many of those cases involved Orthodox Jewish families.

Over the years I have written about the issues of domestic abuse and child neglect/abuse in the Orthodox community. I have spoken on these topics to audiences  ranging from attendees at the Agudah’s annual convention to a group of Kings County assistant district attorneys. And I find that our community still cannot entirely grasp the concept that it is possible for Orthodox parents and spouses to be guilty of abuse or neglect.

I also learned that abuse occurs at many yeshivas and camps as I fielded phone calls from teachers, school administrators, camp administrators and parents.

The molestation of children by teachers and clergy came to the fore a few years ago with reports of widespread abuse in the Catholic Church. The publicity actually made it easier for victims of abuse in the Orthodox community to come forward. The problem, however, is what happens after someone comes forward with an allegation of abuse.

Rape victims, knowing they will be subject to cross-examination and in some ways feel victimized all over again, are often reluctant to prosecute, even with laws in effect that protect their rights during criminal trials. Imagine, then, how difficult it is for children to come forward, especially if the accused is a respected member of the community.

A number of years ago I was approached about setting set up a bet din to deal with cases of abuse within the Orthodox school system. I was told that a major roadblock was the fear that the bet din would be sued by the accused.

Pointing out that teachers, school administrators and all mental health professionals are mandated reporters of abuse in New York, I noted that a bet din could operate in cases where the secular criminal or civil legal systems were not involved. I then suggested that a committee, designated by the institutions that wished to become part of this process, institute employment guidelines for all staff members at their institutions. The guidelines might be as simple as staff members not being permitted to be alone with any child in a classroom, or they could specifically prohibit certain physical contact between staff members and children.

Once the guidelines were set, each staff member, from administrators to custodians, as a condition of his or her employment would be presented with the guidelines and expected to read them and sign an agreement to abide by them. The committee would also develop a list of dispositions for infractions of the rules. These dispositions could include loss of a day’s pay, suspension, simple dismissal, and dismissal with a recommendation that the person not be hired at any institution involving children.

A special bet din would be set up to deal with these cases and, to avoid lawsuits, I suggested that complaints be dealt with by the bet din in two stages.  In stage one the bet din would determine only if there was an infraction of the employment guidelines signed by the employee. If a finding of a guideline violation was made, the bet din would then determine, in stage two, which of the dispositional options to apply.

About the Author: Shlomo Mostofsky is a civil court judge in Brooklyn. He served as president of the National Council of Young Israel between 2000 and 2011.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Dealing With Abuse: A Proposal”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
PM Binyamin Netanyahu
Bibi, Abbas Met Before Ceasefire
Latest Indepth Stories
naqba day unrwa

Responsibility lies with both the UN and Hamas, and better commitments should have been demanded from both parties in the ceasefire.

Eisenstock-082914

But the world is forever challenging our Jewish principle and our practices.

MK Moshe-Feiglin

If this is how we play the game, we will lose. By that I mean we will lose everything.

Reportedly, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates have formed a bloc that seeks to counter Islamist influence in the Middle East.

One wonders how the IDF could be expected to so quickly determine the facts.

While there is no formula that will work for everyone, there are some strategies that if followed carefully and consistently can help our children – and us – gain the most from the upcoming school year.

We risk our lives to help those who do what they can to kill to our people .

Twain grasped amazingly well the pulse of the Jewish people.

The entertainment industry appears divided about the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

Israelis in Gaza border communities need to get out; who will help them?

The contrast between the mentality of Israel and the mentality of Hamas was never so loudly expressed as when the Arab killers became heroes and the Jewish killers became prisoners.

There is a threat today representing a new category of missionary:They call themselves “Hayovel.”

Just as we would never grant legitimacy to ISIS, we should not grant legitimacy to Hamas.

Is Woodstock still leading the world to destruction?

More Articles from Shlomo Z. Mostofsky

At a minimum, every child in our yeshivas needs to be taught how important it is, to the Jewish people and Israel, to utilize their right to vote and to cast an informed vote in every local, state and national election.

Purim is the “topsy-turvy” day of the Jewish calendar – the day of v’nahafoch hu. Boys and girls wear costumes, and we expect children to make noise in shul. It is a festive and happy day. But Purim may also be the day a Jewish boy or girl takes his or her first drink and the first step toward alcohol abuse.

On the 25th day of Kislev we will celebrate Chanukah. On the 4th day of Kislev Jonathan Pollard celebrated the start of his 25th year in prison.

The Orthodox Jewish wedding season commences each year after Lag B’Omer and again after Tisha B’Av. In the weeks prior to those dates we watch the mail for the wedding invitations we receive – and notice the ones we do not. Sometimes we receive invitations to weddings and cannot figure out why we were invited; other times we wonder why a friend or acquaintance has not invited us to a simcha.

Everyone knows the story. Moshiach finally arrives and goes from shul to shul telling the Jews it’s time to go home to Eretz Yisrael. But wherever Moshiach goes he is rejected because of his dress, his yarmulke, his hat or his accent. Eventually, in frustration, he simply leaves.

Assemblyman Dov Hikind deserves credit for his attempt to deal with the issue of abuse in the Orthodox community – a community where people still refer to cancer as “yener machlah” (that disease); where mental illnesses (even those that are not genetic, such as postpartum depression) are rarely spoken of publicly; and where some parents are still afraid to have their sons and daughters tested and registered with Dor Yeshorim even though doing so might prevent a marriage resulting in children with genetic diseases.

On the day French President Nicolas Sarkozy told members of the Israeli Knesset that Jerusalem had to be divided, an Orthodox Jewish teenager was in intensive care in a Paris hospital after he was beaten by an anti-Semitic mob. I found it ironic that a man who is unable to protect the Jews of his own country has the gall to tell Israel’s leaders how best to conduct their internal and external foreign policy.

    Latest Poll

    Do you think the FAA ban on US flights to Israel is political?






    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/dealing-with-abuse-a-proposal/2008/10/01/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: