Talking to religious kids about pedophilia….
David Morris in Beit Shemesh, Israel, writes a blog “tzedek-tzedek” in which he discusses social problems affecting Israeli society, most particularly the religious community. His is one of the few blogs that I read. Not because it is light and happy, but because he sheds light where very, very few are willing to do so, and does it skillfully and with class.
In his posting http://tzedek-tzedek.blogspot.com/2009/11/will-motti-borgers-suicide-make-any.html, he discusses the recent suicide of a religious man who had been a victim of child sexual abuse. It is a somber wake up call.
But for me, it is also yet another disturbing reminder that I have access in person and on line to Torah classes on every imaginable subject. Yet there doesn’t seem to be ANY guidebook on how to speak to religious children about pedophilia.
Why should it be any different for someone who is Orthodox than for anyone else? Well, I would imagine it isn’t easy for any parent, and that there is a dirth of good information out there period.
But we do have some additional challenges. My children have very successfully internalized the concept of avoiding lashon hara – hateful speech. This means that they really are loathe to speak ill of someone else. EVEN WHEN IT IS TRUE. This is an obvious obstacle.
They also are taught to respect their elders, their authority figures, and adults in the community in general. So, if G-d forbid a trusted adult should do something that violates them in any way, I fear that they will believe what they are told by such a person, “respecting them” and buying the lies that pedophiles are known for telling.
So… that brings me back to my point. What works? I have tried so far to relate this subject to other examples of “mitigating circumstances” and the “exceptions to every rule” that exist in Judaism. There are times when we MUST say lashon hara. There are times when we should NOT respect an adult – no matter what. This is very confusing and difficult for my yeshiva trained children. So, I think that one part of the puzzle is to repeat myself, and to remember that this topic, as uncomfortable as it is, cannot be raised once and then forgotten.
However, I read David Morris’ blog (I hope you will too,) and I am therefore reminded to raise the topic from time to time. I have already mentioned how little this topic seems to be raised in the frum world, so I wonder how easy it is out there to forget?
I would very much welcome any suggestions from my readers on things to say – and not say – on the subject.
Something I wish none of us needed any expertise in….