web analytics
May 25, 2015 / 7 Sivan, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


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 Z. 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.

Current Top Story
Former Israel Ambassador to the UN Dore Gold.
Bibi Seals Nationalist Policy with Dore Gold Heading Foreign Ministry
Latest Indepth Stories
Former US Senator, Joe Lieberman

The contrast between a Dem pretending to love Israel & a Dem who truly loves Israel is CRYSTAL CLEAR

israeli-american flags

Pentecost, derived from the Greek word for 50, is celebrated 50 days after Easter.

Israeli-flag

U.S and European demands for the creation of a Palestinian State in the West Bank is world hypocrisy.

Harris-052215

We take a whole person approach, giving our people assistance with whatever they need.

During my spiritual journey I discovered G-d spoke to man only once, to the Jewish people at Sinai

20 years after the great Ethiopian aliyah, we must treat them like everyone else; no better or worse

Connecting Bamidbar&Shavuot is simple-A world without Torah is midbar; with Torah a blessed paradise

Many Black protesters compared Baltimore’s unrest to the Palestinian penchant of terrorism & rioting

She credited success to “mini” decisions-Small choices building on each other leading to big changes

Shavuot 1915, 200000 Jews were expelled; amongst the largest single expulsions since Roman times

Realizing there was no US military threat, Iran resumed, expanded & accelerated its nuclear program

“Enlightened Jews” who refuse to show chareidim the tolerance they insist we give to Arabs sicken me

Somewhat surprisingly, the Vatican’s unwelcome gesture was diametrically at odds with what President Obama signaled in an interview with the news outlet Al Arabiya.

The recent solid victory of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party produced something very different.

The reaction is so strong that nine times out of ten, parents engage in some form of coping mechanism before arriving at a level of acceptance of a special-needs diagnosis.

“…his neshamah reached out to us to have the zechus of Torah learning to take with him on his final journey.”

More Articles from Shlomo Z. Mostofsky
Mostofsky-100314

if her son remained non-responsive she would place honey on his lips on Rosh Hashanah so that he might realize it was the chag.

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.

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: