Agudath Israel’s PR flack Rabbi Avi Shafran writes about sex abuse and child abuse in the haredi community:
True or false?
1) Child abuse does not happen in the Orthodox Jewish community.
2) Child abuse is particularly prevalent there.
3) Halacha-observant living actually encourages child abuse.
4) The Orthodox community has not taken measures to prevent child abuse.
Answers: 1) false 2) false 3) false 4) false.
Abuse of children unquestionably exists in the Orthodox community. So, though, does fanciful speculation of its extent. Consider a recent long, lurid article about a child molestation lawsuit against an Orthodox rabbi.…
Less than 40 words into his piece, Rabbi Shafran has proved himself to be dishonest. By painting his “questions” in the extreme, he has guaranteed “answers” he agrees with. But those straw men are not the proper questions. These are:
- Child abuse happens in the Orthodox community with alarming frequency, despite denials by Orthodox leaders.
- Child abuse in Orthodox communities occurs far more often than previously believed.
- Denial of the extent of the problem, along with frequent coverups and protection of abusers, coupled with persecution of victims and their advocates, encourages abuse.
- The Orthodox community, especially the haredi community, has done little to prevent abuse or punish abusers. At the same time, they have persecuted victims and worked to crush dissent in order to preserve their community’s “good name.”
Answers: 1) True. 2) True. 3) True. 4)True.
Shafran closes with this:
If any environment can reasonably be imagined to foster the bane of child abuse, it is the charged atmosphere of MTV, R-rated movies, contemporary advertising and uncontrolled Internet usage, not the universe of Jewish values.
Of course, Jewish values do not foster child abuse and sex abuse – unless you count lying and covering up for abusers as a Jewish value. Sadly, it seems today’s haredi leaders do just that.