Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Reporting Abuse

Do not go to your local rabbi, go to the appropriate authorities. Your local rabbi may or may not be sympathetic, as shown by the attitude of  Sydney Rabbi Yosef Feldman who, after immense pressure from other rabbis, has now stood down from his position as President of the Rabbinical Council.

Based on the recent discussions by Rabbinic organizations in the US and Canada regarding reporting child abuse, and the recent standing down of a rabbi in Sydney ...... this article is reprinted from Rav Aviner.com



One's Duty to Immediately Report Child Abuse, at all Costs

When children are battered, whether sexually or "just" physically, anyone who knows about it has to report it to the authorities. The child, after all, is helpless and has no defenses. According to Jewish law, the primary loyalty of anyone who knows what is happening must be to the battered child, and this duty is absolute. Allow me to add that from a legal standpoint, if the person who knows about it is a professional in an associated field, for example a social worker or psychologist, and he does not report it, he is liable to go to prison for half a year.

Cruelly hitting children is alien to the world of Jewish law. Our halachic authorities viewed the matter so gravely that Ha-Rav Ha-Gaon Yosef Shalom Elyashiv ruled that outside of Israel in the case of a battered child, one must assist the authorities to remove him from his home – even if the child will be moved to a non-Jewish family. The reason is that such treatment could threaten the child's life (see Shut Tzitz Eliezer 19:52 who discusses abused children in Israel and considers the abuser a "Rodef – pursuer" who must be stopped).

The desire not to report it in order to spare the perpetrator may derive from sincere motives, but one must first take pity on the helpless child. His fate comes before all else. In the Crisis Center for Religious Women, it is reported that there are more children who suffer from beatings and sexual abuse among the religious public than among the secular public. This is not because the religious are more violent, but because more often the religious public avoids reporting such incidents, and they make reports only when the matter goes to extremes. Until then, the battered child suffers terrible harm.

It is important to note that there is only one situation in which one is exempt from reporting. If the perpetrator is aware of his problem, is willing to go for appropriate treatment, steadfastly shows up for treatment sessions, and the responsible authorities supervise this process, then the perpetrator is doing what he would be ordered to do anyway. In all other instances, without exception, there is an obligation to report abuse, and quickly. The child's fate depends on us.

I recall a story in which I was personally involved. Someone saw his neighbor kick his small daughter in the head when she was lying on the floor. The man hesitated about whether or not to report what had occurred, when it was clear that he would pay for his deed with a fight with the neighbor. I ruled that he was obligated to report it, and immediately. During the talk it became clear to me that the person asking the question was a social worker. I had trouble believing this and I asked him, "How can it be that you, as a social worker, would ask me such a question?"

He did report what he had seen, and as he feared, he got into a fight with his neighbor, as well as with much of the neighborhood in which he lived, since the violent father incited them against him. I heard about that and I talked to him. I told him, "It will all be worth it. Think about the fact that you saved a Jewish life."

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

the reason things are so sick in the world so much neglect single parents and abuse of children ! people go to drugs rap violence immorality insanity !We want mashiach now .

Anonymous said...

Well said.

Leah said...

Oy yoy yoy......I cannot stand that this exists. I have spoken about this to others and have asked rabbanim. I have a n article that I saved, "Honoring abusive parents". It comes from sources that pull areas of torah that discuss what to when confronted by abusers (of course if one is old enough and strong enough) of one's family and if one views abuse fom another family etc...very important issue.
I\To this day, it still amazes me that there are so many people that think it's a crime to send an abuser to jail because gasp, cugh, cough heaven forbid he /she should go to ....no don't say it....jail......and guilt and shame the abused child/children.....

Anonymous said...

The real chillul Hashem is a 'Torah observant' Jew can be seen kicking his young daughter in the head and another Torah observant Jew wonders if it should be reported!! How many of our Jewish children have suffered like this without rescue we'll never know. What agony the child must endure knowing the so-called G-d-fearing adults who can save him do not! How many Jewish children abandoned by those who should protect ultimately leave the "religious" community?

Anonymous said...

For heaven's sake - neglect can happen in a 2 parent family just as much as it could happen in any family situation - all it requires is the parent/caretaker not being emotionally present for the child in mirroring them in a positive altruistic way and instead focus on themselves and their needs.

Parents/caretakers can be physically present but emotionally are a million miles away. In this day and age people aren't present for themselves and disassociate due to trauma they experienced sometimes in their own childhood - so how could they possibly be fit and able to provide for another human being - let alone a child?

Sexual abuse, physical abuse - all horrific - but make no mistake that emotional abuse in whatever form that may take - is no less damaging to a child. In fact, the *experts* have concluded it is in fact much more damaging.

Devorah said...

Anonymous #1: Sometimes the reason a parent is "single" is because the other parent is the ABUSER.

Ever considered that?

Devorah said...

Quoting Anonymous #3: The real chillul Hashem is a 'Torah observant' Jew can be seen kicking his young daughter in the head and another Torah observant Jew wonders if it should be reported!

And why is this the case? Because [some of] the rabbis who lead the communities have brainwashed everyone into thinking this way. People were/are under the impression that going to the authorities is forbidden, a hang-up from Nazi Germany when Jews informed on other Jews to the Nazis yemach shemo.

It was the murder of Leiby Kletzy a"h which brought all of this to a head, and if his death achieves anything it all, it will be that people have woken up to the fact that any form of abuse, be it spousal abuse or child abuse, will not be tolerated in our communities, and the abusers will be brought to justice IY"H.

Devorah said...

Anonymous-whose-comment-I-didn't-publish:

From your angry words and ridiculous arguments, I can see you are an abuser who needs help. You say "how can you fix something you're not aware of".... obviously you are aware of it because you detail it. [quote] Do we really need to count the ways in which we torture each other? Torture our spouses? torture our children? With passive aggressiveness? Sarcastic remarks? Lethal put-downs? Mocking? cursing? The looks that kill? The way we derive perverse pleasure in sticking it to another, so that we can feel superior or powerful? [unquote]

You then wrote: "We do it because it's in our DNA and our programming. We do it because we were never taught another way."

Now this is what I don't understand. Why people don't have the guts to break free from their abusive tendencies. If they know how bad their own childhood was, why on earth wouldn't they ensure it DIDN'T happen to their own children????

So Anonymous: just because you were brought up in an abusive home, doesn't mean you get a licence to pass it on to the next generation. Get help and save your poor family. Break the cycle of domestic violence, take steps to ensure your own wife and children can be spared your own personal nightmare. Once you feel better about yourself, you'll stop feeling the need to act the way you do.

Devorah said...

Also see: CLARIFICATION OF R' AVINER ON ABUSE