US/World News

300 Orthodox rabbis urge reporting of child sex abuse

(JTA) – Three hundred Orthodox rabbis have signed a proclamation urging those sus-pecting child sex abuse to notify secular authorities and calling on Jewish institutions to take preventative measures to prevent abuse. The letter, which was released August 25 and signed by rabbis from the U.S., Canada, Israel and Europe, recognizes that Or-thodox communities “could have responded in more responsible and sensitive ways to help victims and to hold perpetrators accountable.” It also condemns attempts to ignore or silence abuse victims and witnesses. Those suspecting sexual abuse do not need to seek rabbinic approval before contacting civil authorities, the proclamation states. “We condemn attempts to ignore allegations of child sexual abuse. These efforts are harmful, contrary to Jewish law, and immoral,” it said. “The reporting of reasonable suspicions of all forms of child abuse and neglect directly and promptly to the civil authorities is a requirement of Jewish law.”

The letter strongly condemns ostracizing victims of sexual abuse and calls upon syna-gogues and schools to set up policies to prevent sex abuse, including carefully screen-ing new employees, raising awareness of the issue, and teaching children about sexual development and safety. The signatories include members of the Orthodox Union, Rabbinical Council of America and Yeshiva University.

In August 2015, more than 100 haredi Orthodox rabbis and teachers signed a proclamation obligating Jews to report suspected child sex abuse to the authorities.

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