Sunday, June 15, 2008

Regarding Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch's Guidelines for Calling the Police

Regarding Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch's Guidelines for Calling the Police
© (2008) Vicki Polin - CEO, The Awareness Center, Inc.

It saddens me a great deal to read the posting on Daas Torah's blog. With all the information and education that is available to our rabbonim it appears that they are still refusing to learn from their past mistakes. I'll admit that I have never heard of Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch until I received an e-mail with the link to this blog. (Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch, shlita, senior member of the Jerusalem Beit Din Tzedek (Jewish Religious Court)

My hope by providing the following information will help to prevent one more child from being harmed and that those who are already victims of sex crimes, the will be able to receive the proper help.

It's obvious that Rabbi Sternbuch is lacking basic knowledge about sex offenders and the needs of those who have been sexually violated as children. The most important message that needs to get out is that each of us should consider ourselves mandated reporters. This basically means if you SUSPECT a child is in danger you have to call your local hotline, rape crisis center or police. You don't go to a rabbi to get permission or have them make the call. The key word here is "SUSPECT." We need to leave all the investigating and fact finding/gathering to law enforcement and not our rabbonim.

Most children don't come out and say "I'm being raped at home, school, camp and or in shul." If we suspect a child is being harmed or at risk of harm it's vitally important that we don't ask the child leading questions. It's best to have a highly trained mental health professional and or child protection worker who works with law enforcement to talk to the child to get information.

How many times do I have to remind everyone that our rabbis DO NOT have specialized training in collecting forensic evidence nor do they have the education, training or skills to do a victim sensitive interview. Going to a rav "with concerns" just doesn't work. It's much better for the individual who suspects a child is at risk of harm to call their local child abuse hotlines directly.

The concern Rabbi Sternbuch has regarding child protection workers, rape victim advocates and the police not being "sensitive to the needs and nature of the charedi community" is not true in most cases. Most professionals want to do what they can to help and understand the cultural differences. I'm sure that Rabbi Sternbuch knows this and I'm afraid to say I think that he is trying to sell a bag of goods, with his fear tactics of saying the police will not work with or understand the cultural differences.
If you live in Israel and suspect a child is being abused call:
Israel Association for Child Protection (ELI)

In the US call:
ChildHelp USA


Blogger yidi said...

Saturday, June 14, 2008
Rav Moshe Sternbuch, shlita - Guidelines for calling the Police VII - critical addendum
I talked to Rav Sternbuch this Shabbos regarding the issue of whether a rabbi must always be consulted before calling the police.

In my first posting on the subject I reported that he said:

The rule is summarized simply – if one knows that someone is being physically abused or will be abused than it is required to call the police after consulting a rabbi who agrees he is a future danger as is common in such cases.

In response to the question as to whether a rabbi must be called, he said that the key issue is to ascertain whether the child is in danger or will be in danger. If it is obvious that that is the case - either because of one's direct knowledge or a responsible person has informed you of that fact - the police should be called.

Talking to others who have discussed the issue with him, they noted that Rav Sternbuch's focus is on the issue of harm to the child. When they told him about other poskim who have focused on "is the particular act truly sexual contact, or has the perpetrator promised to stop, or if the perpetrator agrees to be supervised" he got furious and said these approaches are nonsense. He is fully aware that therapy is not very successful and that the perpetrator is likely to repeat the crime.

Bottom line: If a child is in danger of being molested - the police need to be called. If there is any uncertainty - either regarding the facts or the seriousness of the incident - an experienced rabbi or professional should be consulted. However if it is clear that children are in danger of being molested - a rabbi does not have to be consulted. Rav Sternbuch concluded, "Let the molester rot in jail."

June 15, 2008 10:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I respectfully disagree. If a child makes a claim of abuse or if there is even an inkling that a child or other vulnerable person is being sexually abused the police should be called immediately.

Most cases of sexual abuse--especially involving children or other vulnerable people such as the mentally ill-are not clear and an investigation is necessary.

Unfortunately, I think too many people are more concerned with protecting appearances than protecting innocent victims.

June 15, 2008 3:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What I don't understand is why doesn't Sternbuch or others like him put the child's best interest first? What are they really so afraid of? I don't think it's cultural issues. I think it's that they care more about those who offend then the child or adult who was victimized.

Is this one of the times we have to "follow the money", to learn the real answer to my question?

June 15, 2008 10:38 PM  

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