The Rabbinical Council of America, the main professional association for Modern Orthodox rabbis in the United States, — has put out a statement calling “upon all synagogues and schools to adopt policies geared towards preventing sexual abuse.”
Among the recommendations are training staff to prevent sexual abuse; using sex registries to warn communities when a convicted sex offender moves to town; running background checks on all employees; not allowing an adult and child to be alone together; and clarifying what kind of physical contact is unacceptable.
The RCA’s resolution on the guidelines acknowledged that “the Orthodox community has experienced cases of sexual abuse committed by rabbis, counselors, leaders, and other Jewish professionals [and that] such abuse causes immeasurable harm to the victims and can destroy lives.”
The organization of rabbis urged that current staff members as well as new employees undergo periodic retraining on preventing sexual abuse.
Concerning a sex registry it noted, “The entire community need not know about this person’s history, but the rabbi or principal and some professionals will be aware and will monitor the person’s compliance with specially instituted safeguards.”
When there is a need for a private conversation, the RCA suggested that it take place in a situation where others can easily see what is happening.
It added that physical contact between an adult and a child could state that “high fives” or a pat on the shoulder are acceptable but that “wrestling, kissing, or sitting on laps are not.“
The Rabbinical Council warned that safety for children should be promoted but that there should not be an atmosphere in which “any adult who smiles at a child is immediately accused of sexual abuse.”
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