Why IS That Man Taking Such An Interest In My Child??
[Introductory Note: There have been several cases in Bet Shemesh/RBS in recent weeks of charismatic men who have a Pied Piper influence over kids, some of whom they allegedly have molested. The kids' parents were aware of the 'specialness' of the relationship, even the peculiarity, but were not aware of the risks. I offer this article as guidance to help parents become more aware of the potential downside of these relationships. I have used males, but whereas most pedophiles are male, their child victims can be equally likely girls or boys.]
If you reminisce back to your school days, you can probably think of a specific adult who had a profound influence on you and helped you overcome your growing-up challenges.
There are some particularly gifted and wonderful people who are able to bridge an age gap, and thereby positively engage with someone who is even many years their junior.
Such people can apply this talent to working with kids and youth in a professional context, and can become the most positively influential forces upon the minds and souls of their young charges.
The world is undoubtedly a more amazing and caring place, for these special people who can bring the wisdom of age, to those youngsters who can most benefit by this.
There are also other individuals, who target children for the ultimate purpose of satisfying themselves.
Some pedophiles will devote enormous efforts to preparing a child for abuse, in such a way that the child will least resist, and the perpetrator will be most protected.
The process is called “grooming”; the grooming process can be incredibly complex, involving selection of the victim, establishment of decoys, and neutralizing the possibility that the child will incriminate the perpetrator – or if he/she does, then making sure that they will not be believed by the child’s adult guardians.
Some pedophiles will target certain positions and professions in society which can give them privileged access to children.
Teachers, tutors, youth club leaders, babysitters, youth-workers, the shul candy man, even rabbonim/clergy…
Because the holders of many of these positions are seen as above reproach, so very few victims are willing to face the shame and scorn of openly accusing the perpetrator.
In many cases, literally dozens of kids can be abused, until the first one is willing to speak out, and begin the process of exposing the pedophile.
If your kid is getting more-than-average attention from an older person, it is appropriate to ask “Why IS Ploni* Taking Such An Interest In My Child??
Some tell-tale signs of grooming are that one child, or a small group, are selected by Ploni for special attentions; these special attentions go beyond the normal boundaries of Ploni’s job description.
Ploni gives the child presents; private visits to Ploni’s home; outings; building up a special relationship with the child’s parents; physical games, such as tickling, or physical affection such as hugging; building trust by sharing ‘secrets’; groomers can also be extremely manipulative, sowing doubts in the child's mind against the integrity of other adults in the child's life.
Adults who see this behaviour pattern often come to terms with it, by taking the position that Ploni is “wonderful with kids – and my kid in particular, B’H”; Ploni is so charismatic to the kids, that his behavior can be excused as perhaps eccentric, odd, even off-the-wall, but not dangerous.
Your child, on the other hand, may be giving you signals that something is very wrong about the relationship – but a child will very rarely say outright “Ploni is abusing me”. They simply know something’s very wrong and cannot put that in the words that an adult will grasp.
So, perhaps your child’s grades have suddenly dropped; his self-confidence has gone; regressive behaviour, such as bedwetting; references to sexuality or genitals which are not in character or age appropriate. Maybe he says he doesn’t like going places with Ploni, but won’t explain why. Or is often “ill”, and so cannot be around Ploni - but with no measurable symptoms of illness.
If you read this, and think “Heh! You’ve got me worried…what does Ploni want from my child?!”, then you might want to speak with an expert. Very few people have received training about how to handle such concerns, and what to say or not to say to your child, or to Ploni. It’s not something you can just wing-it – or, worse, ignore it.
Pedophilia thrives on silence, and on the natural inclination we all have of avoiding turning over a stone, lest we find what lies beneath it.
Most kids who are being abused say nothing, and most adults who suspect abuse, do nothing.
And that’s why, particularly in close and trusting communities, so many of our kids are at risk.
If you would like to consult, even anonymously, then please call 02-9997026 or email: email@example.com
* Ploni is Hebrew for A.N.Other
“Magen” is a new Child Protection organization in Bet
. Shemesh, Israel
You can learn more about Magen in a recently published Connections Magazine article:
One such individual who has been accused by several young boys and is still under police investigation is moving to shvil Ha Gichon. Parents be warned. This person likes to lure boys with video games. Make sure you know where your kids are playing.By law, he cannot be named until found guilty. The police are trying to get a conviction. Please be careful.ReplyDelete
David, I would like to know why you are so obsessed about pedophiles. You have been known to slander innocent men, and Rabbanim have described this as "killing a person in his lifetime". You really have to research facts before you terrify a town with mass paranoia against men and mechanchim who happen to be gifted and strike a rapport with the children. It would be far more educational to explain to parents how to teach their children the boudaries of touching, exposing, etc. And to not leave their children alone with any male. And to encourage open communication with their children so that if anything untoward began to happen, the children would be likely to report back to the parents. And for the children to be taught never to be terrified into silence. Your approach is too emotional, too hysterical.ReplyDelete
Anonymous - - Uhh.. better safe than sorryReplyDelete
Thank you for your insight. It is always helpful to be reminded these elements in society exist. One of these experiences can destroy an individual and haunt those around that individual for years to come. IY"H we will never have to deal with the pain, anguish and emotional turmoil that goes with this. Keep up the good work and thanks.ReplyDelete
Anonymous there is nothing hysterical at all about David's well-written, balanced and important article. Nor does he sound obsessed. No one is being slandered either. Your suggestion to not leave a child alone with ANY man sounds more hysterical. Thank you for this article David and for bringing this subject out into the open. All abuse thrives on secrecy and silence. All of us have had that creepy feeling around these types of men. Let's protect our children.ReplyDelete
I'm having a hard time getting clear, accurate and concise information about the exact risk in RBS. I'm NOT looking for hint, gossip and whispers.ReplyDelete
What should I do?
Dear Anonymous 21:34ReplyDelete
"David, I would like to know why you are so obsessed about pedophiles."
DM: Kids and their parents come to me, and now to Magen, with their pain, and we listen to them, and then get them the help they need.
"You have been known to slander innocent men,"
DM: We have assisted kids to take their allegations to the authorised, qualified parties who can help. The police; the social services; therapists who specialise in this area.
" and Rabbanim have described this as "killing a person in his lifetime"."
DM: The victims are the victims. Those who help them, are performing a great mitzva of protecting children from harm, and surely not "killed" anyone. The guilty parties, are the guilty parties.
The tactic of blaming the victim, and those who help them, as you have done here, is solely to distract blame from the perpetrators. I have seen the same tactic played out too many times. Usually by the alleged perpetrators.
"You really have to research facts before you terrify a town with mass paranoia against men and mechanchim who happen to be gifted and strike a rapport with the children."
DM: I believe I addressed the value of gifted mechanechim etc in the first part of the article. I have nothing but encouragement for these wonderful people.
As for researching the facts, I am not an expert, but I have probably done more research in this area than many others.
And, regretfully, the facts are a cause for public concern.
Thank you so much for speaking out on this important issue. It is also amazing what you have accomplished with Lema'an Achai. You are a real inspiration.ReplyDelete
there are no words to describe the damage sexual abuse inflicts on a child. It affects not only the child, but the entire family. The comment about being alarmist is typical of the backlash victims encounter when coming forward. Shame on the individual that posted this. You should never know...ReplyDelete
In a society that is obsessed with immorality, where no boundaries exist; no amount of effort to protect our children can be labeled as too much.
I applaud the MAGEN team for finally taking the steps that should have been taken years ago and would have saved many shattered lives had it been in place.
It is time to stand up and say "enough!!!"
How many cases have we heard where the perpetrator walks free with full protection from the local Rabbonim and the victims' lives wither away, usually going off the derech and doing drugs to numb the pain.
Let us stand up and give full backing to MAGEN and make the world a safer place for us and our children.
Thank you so much D.M. for your time, expertise, and assistance in getting the ball rolling.ReplyDelete
HOWEVER the real THANK YOU goes to a modest and brave family that cares about the kedushah and neshomes of our communities kinderlach and that had the courage to speak out and start the investigation.
I have seen enough and heard enough to know that this is a very real case and that rabbi's have been consulted along the way.
Thank you DM for highlighting this issue. As a mother of three young children my main concern is to protect them and help them grow as healthy individuals. It's a parents nightmare to think someone may harm their child and any publicity to prevent this happening is a step forward, as is protecting the victims and not the perp.ReplyDelete
We must be careful not to turn this into hysterical with-hunts. Its very popular and "in" to report any "case" of suspected abuse (hearing kids scream, hearing parents yelling at kids, etc) but its getting out of hand. One of my neighbors rec'd a registered letter from the BS Revacha dep't demanding a meeting on 1 day's notice. They showed up and were questioned pretty roughly (like an inquisition). Nothing happened. No aploogy and certainly no charges were filed as there was no abuse. But they really were not treated respectfully and they have noticed a change in behavior by neighbors (very few invitations, much less play dates for the kids). This family is seriously thinking about moving out of B/RBS. They figure some neighbor heard shouting and reported them and told others about their suspicions. What I am saying is if you have real evidence of abuse by all means report but lets not go and ruin people's reputations over rumors, slander or "what you hear."ReplyDelete
Anonymous 21:04: "witch hunt...lets not go and ruin people's reputations over rumors, slander or "what you hear."ReplyDelete
DM: The problem, particularly in close communities, is not the over-zealous reporting of innocent activities, but the under-reporting of real abuse.
To put some numbers on this, according the Israel National Society of Child Welfare (Moetzet LeShalom Hayeled) fully 97% of all complaints of child abuse were for-real; just 3% were false claims.
And the total number of complaints (around 40,000 each year) is reckoned to be a small proportion of all abuse being perpetrated.
The exact numbers of non-reporting are speculative, by nature - but their estimate is only one-in-eight real abuse cases are reported.
Cries of loshen hora, motshei shem rah ("rumours and slander") are invariably used to cover up our unsightly truths.
I am not trying to hound you, but simply moving my comments from Rafi's blog to yours, so that it will be easier for you to respond.
FWIW, I am an enormous suppporter of your wonderful work, both with Lmaan Acahi and the fledgling Magen organization.
And I agree that the body of this article is well balanced and responsible. More importantly, it is a vital resource for our community.
However, as I suggested on Rafi's blog, I am somewhat taken aback by the introductory paragraph. I trust that you are in a unique position to answer this, so I ask in all sincerity:
Is it really true that in the past recent weeks there have been several accusations of abuse of this nature? That statement strikes me as alarmist and exaggerated. Please enlighten me and the public with as much detail as possible. I refer not to problematic details that could be harmful to either party, such as names or even places. Rather, can you share some general stats on the calls you have received and the estimated number of current cases of concern in our area.
Thanks for all your outstanding work on behalf of this community
In response to a post above you stated 97% of abuse reports to welfare (revacha) turn out to be true. You have got to be kidding. It is well known the welfare dep't investigates every report (as required by law) but it is also well known that MOST reports turn out to be nothing with nothing - nosy neighbors, guidance counselors afraid of losing their jobs if there really is a problem (i.e. cover your a$$) or vindictive ones trying to get someone in trouble. If they get 40,000 reports a year and 97% are true wouldn't we see oh like 39,000 people a year arrested or put in jail?
And...you never answered the point about people having to move away because all of this over-reporting is messing innocent families up. I know personally a family who moved out of B/RBS because of suspicions which were totally unfounded but as the above poster states neighbors "heard about some welfare dep't investigation" rushed to judgment and once word was out that the husband / wife was suspected of "abuse" these people and their kids were socially finished.
You ask: "Is it really true that in the past recent weeks there have been several accusations of abuse of this nature?"
DM: Yes, it is true.
Whereas blind panic and alarm are certainly not appropriate, a hightened level of awareness is needed.
Not an easy balance, to be sure.
Perhaps "Concerned" would be an appropriate level of response?!
Dear Anonymous 14:47ReplyDelete
"In response to a post above you stated 97% of abuse reports to welfare (revacha) turn out to be true. You have got to be kidding."
I refer you to "The State of the Child In Israel 2007", published by The Israel National Council for the Child in collaboration with the Haruv Institute. P 518, Figure 14F.
"True Reports and False Reports regarding children who came under the care of the Child Protection Officers (percentages):
True Reports: 96.9%
False Reports: 3.1%."
Of course, Anonymous, they may be kidding.
But it's not, overall, a very funny book.
I'm sorry, but a blanket statement is not enough here.ReplyDelete
I will take your word for things, but I need some more details.
Since July 1, how many separate credible accusations has Magen received?
How many fit the "pied piper" scenario detailed in the article?
Is there any reason not to share these stats?
I'm sorry, Concerned. With all respect, I have already answered you (twice!) and yet you apparently still do not believe me.ReplyDelete
I am not in a position to divulge further information publicly.
You are welcome to contact me off-line, using your real identity, and we may be able to discuss this further.
I too am sorry. And respect you greatly. And I have stated that I will take you at your word.ReplyDelete
However, it is not true that you have answered me fully even once, let alone twice. I attempted to clarify this with a clear set of two questions, that compromise the privacy or rights of no one. I cannot imagine how telling us the number of separate pied piper complaints received by Magen since July 1 is something that you are "not in a position to divulge further publicly."
Let me be clear again. I write as a friend, and am very much on your side. But I also am part of a larger community that remains skeptical regarding the extent of this threat. And I believe that many respond poorly to sweeping statements that smack of exaggeration. But if David Morris, with his great credibility, would say: "I personally have received x number of credible separate complaints regarding individuals operating in our community," I strongly feel that you will get the attention of the community more than you will with the more general statement written before the Magen article.
Concerned - with all respect, you are not listening.ReplyDelete
I have good reasons for not publicly talking numbers, or any other specifics about current cases.
I asked that, if you wish to continue this thread, you should contact me, with your identity, off line.
However, if you repeat the same loop again, in this comments section, I will take the step, regretfully, of deleting it.
I look forward to hearing from you off line.
You seek numbers and statistics and while I understand your concern let me share a different angle.
I am a parent of a child who was molested. Although this happened many years ago we live every day with the pain of our child who had difficulty in and out of school and eventually dropped out.
The most painful part was although we approached community rabbonim the finger came back to us. Perhaps it was a family member, a neighbor, etc.
Just because a man is a rebbe doesn't give him immunity from a yetzer hara and proper procedure. Yet many of our leaders feel differently.
I only wish that we had a Magen and David Morris then. Someone more concerned for our child than the "image" of the rebbe.
Kol Hakavod to this brave man and his new organization. Sadly he and all of his work have been targeted by some local rabbonim and shuls who are frightened by the truth and what must be done to the molestors.
So concerned, even one report is too much and we should all stand behind David not against.
Excuse me but you are misleading to say the least. The post said it was hard to believe that 97% of reporting to revacha was justified and you imply that it is? You are playing fast and loose here. The stat you quote is 97% of people coming under the care of child protection officers is justified (turns out there really was abuse after a court hearing). That statistic IS NOT THE SAME as 97% of initial reports to child welfare being true. The point being made was that people are starting to over-report and the vast majority of initial reports are closed as there is no abuse BUT neighbors dont know people are cleared all they know is there is an investigation. That's the problem - frivolous reporting. You dont deny nor can you deny that neighbors are over reporting and people are getting burnt socially. People should not report to child welfare unless they are damn sure or have a real reasonable cause to suspect abuse. Just nily willy calling anonymously is an invitation to abuse the system and causes terrible social/community problems to innocent people.ReplyDelete
You claim that there is an over-reporting problem. "The vast majority of initial reports are closed as there is no abuse".
You may have been the victim of an erroneous report. And if so, this is most regretful and surely caused much pain.
However, according to all the statistics I have seen, and according to all the experts I have spoken to, over the past two years of researching this subject, your experience is the exception.
The RULE is that there is a vast UNDER-reporting. It is estimated that only ONE IN EIGHT real abuses are actually reported (according to the National Council for the Child in Israel).
And that of those relatively few reports which are made, they are overwhelmingly - 97% - genuine.
I am sorry you have apparently experienced the rough side of this - but please do not take your data base of one case (which I understand you claim was a false allegation), and extrapolate that to make statistical conclusions.
Furthermore, the law in Israel says that we are ALL mandatory reporters, and we are ALL obligated to report ANY suspicion of child abuse, to the authorities.
Failing to report such suspicions carries a three month prison sentence - and can also put kids in grave danger.
The stastics, the law, and my own observations from involvement in these cases is clear.
REPORT! REPORT! REPORT!
I simply cannot believe that anyone would have the sheer gall to challenge the work of those people seeking to root out the predators in this neighborhood. Throw statistics around if it makes you feel better, but in every society and in every corner of the world, there are going to be these sick individuals who are drawn towards our children. It is not new and it is not going to go away. It is condemned in every nation and its law enforcement attempts to stamp it out. As we see in the media, where religious communities excert more power, child abuse gets hidden away. The reasons are too complex to discuss here, but by drawing parallels with the catholic church, we are able to see that the Orthodox community has its own secrets and evil lurking beneath the kedusha. By challenging David and Magen ( for what reason?)you are wiping out one of the first protective barriers of defense for the children of this city. Is this something you want to do? If one person sees your post and decides not to report, then you have caused pain to the next victim and the one after that ( chas v'shalom). Unless you are willing to give up hours of your time and work body and soul, like David does to make this a safe place for our kids, then I suggest you keep your pompous opinions to yourself. They are dangerous and sad.ReplyDelete
DM says: Furthermore, the law in Israel says that we are ALL mandatory reporters, and we are ALL obligated to report ANY suspicion of child abuse, to the authorities.ReplyDelete
Comment: Report "ANY" suspicions??...Wow I hear a kid crying I better run and report. Must be his parent/tutor/adult friend beating him/her up.
DM: Failing to report such suspicions carries a three month prison sentence.
Comment: Sounds like a throwback to Stalinist Russia - report or YOU will be arrested.
DM: I am sorry you have apparently experienced the rough side of this - but please do not take your data base of one case (which I understand you claim was a false allegation), and extrapolate that to make statistical conclusions.
Comment: I am not referring to myself but there are victims of over-reporting who have moved out of B/RBS after being investigated over nonsensical reporting.
And when you say "you claim is false" I presume then you would never believe anyone who tells you it was false because you swear by this 97% statistic. Anyone who ever would tell you that they were falsely accused well you would not believe them right? According to you there is a 97% presumption they are lying.
DM: the rough side of this...
Comment: "rough side" ...well if you had empathy for what people have gone through and being aggravated, forced to move out of B/RBS, leaving one's home that they fixed up just so, leaving schools for the kids and the friends they "had", you would never be so flippant as calling it merely "rough".
Real abuse MUST be rooted out. There is in all population groups terrible people who do terrible things. David, can you enlighten us as to what the parameters are in terms of reporting? Dont we run the risk of "the boy who cried wolf"? How can we discharge our obligations without calling at least once a day when you hear a parent yell at a child or you hear a kid screaming. Are we supposed to report in these situations?ReplyDelete
Hi Anonymous 11:27ReplyDelete
"The boy who cried wolf?"
I have not come across anyone who reports an allegation of child abuse lightly.
And there are very many who do not report allegations when they ought, for many reasons (beyond the scope of this comment!).
Anyone who is seeking advice about whether reporting a particular case constitutes frivolous reporting, or indeed is mandatory and important, or who needs advice about HOW to report, is welcome to obtain advice from Magen. You can call anonymously, if you prefer. 02-9997026 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
To the sceptical "Anon" above.I hope you never have to go through the experience of discovering that your child has been abused by someone you thought you could trust. My family had to go through this. To set the record straight, since this seems to be bothering you, one of the first things social services does when the abuse is reported, is to make sure that you have no prior argument with the alleged abuser. this prevents people from reporting abuse just to get revenge or humiliate someone. It is a very hard process and emotionally draining, that social services makes you prove to them that the abuse was genuine before they will pursue the case. But for sceptics like you, it must be "nice" to know that this protocol is followed. Please take David up on his challenge and speak to him off list-it is very disturbing to see someone raking him over the coals like this.ReplyDelete
Once again, kol hakavod to you and Magen. Sadly, this kind of publicity and program is necessary.
Anonymous: "Sounds like a throwback to Stalinist Russia - report or YOU will be arrested."ReplyDelete
Actually, mandatory reporting is standard in all civilised Western countries. USA, UK, etc...
The concept is that the child has no "voice" in an adult world; if adults are not forced to protect the child, by reporting suspicions of abuse, then the abuse would continue unchecked and unpunished.
The same principle in law (in Israel) also applies to others who lack a "voice", such as disabled people, who are taken advantage of/abused, but may lack the means to communicate this on a level playing field about their abuser.
We are all responsible to be the voice of the abused child.
To all the skeptics-ReplyDelete
This is not an issue to be taken lightly.
As the mother of a teenage girl who was taken advantage of by a "rabbi", I can assure you that dangers exist out there. It is critically important to be aware that they exist and not to bury our heads in the sand.
We were aware and sensitive to the fact that something not quite beseder was going on. Unfortunately I didn't trust my gut instincts enough to move faster and more furiously. The situation was eventually dealt with, but not until severe damage was caused.
Thank you, David, for this important article.
I do not want to say too much, however I am distressed by people who are scorning and mocking 'good institutions', it is obvious that there are such problems [I have heard over that past year 2 cases of rape and one of inappropriate literature]...does not R'Yonah list mocking good instituations as one of the no-nos of lashon ha-roh!ReplyDelete
An even more distressing point is that I am under the impression that many parents will find an excuse of some sort to avoid the whole issue and the child is lucky if he gets social help, let alone the perpetrator being put into prison for the better protection of society.
One can not just sit back and do nothing, the lives of other Jews are also our responsibilities...as an after thought, I was abused when I was 11 years old, if other parents had acted and put the perpetrator behind bars, perhaps it could have been avoided.
I did some inappropriate behavior a few months later with a female relative...perhaps there is a link between the two events...this also could have been avoided...
Parents must step forward, since Jews are held responsible for their families and their fellow Jews.
Dear D.M., I would recommend not replying to Anonymous's comments, since they are not coming from a good source. It is evident in the words that he is being sarcastic, critical and I have not noticed anything good being said about your services.ReplyDelete
Jewish Mother said "I simply cannot believe that anyone would have the sheer gall to challenge the work of those people seeking to root out the predators in this neighborhood."ReplyDelete
Not only do they challenge but they attack all of the good work done by these people.
We are here in the year 2010 and there is actually a Rav and kehilla that BANS a reputible tzedaka organization from their shul because it's founder speaks out for abused children's rights?
What kind of "rav" and "kehilla" is this? I surmise that most of the kehilla doesn't even realize why the rav won't allow the organization into the shul.
Even a rav can err in judgement and in this case it is obvious that he has.
If they do know the reason and still allow this travesty...shame on them!
I do not think that this is the correct platform for discussing BANS, the claims that you make do sound unreasonable to most rational thinking people (and therefor they probably are).ReplyDelete
If it is giving you sleepless nights then please consult the Rav or Gabbi for clarification on their stance.
Dear Dear Jewish Mother,ReplyDelete
I wasn't using this as a platform rather commenting on the post of Jewish mother.
Trying to defend the BANS (your caps) shows what type of thinking you employ.
I don't have sleepless nights over this...it is the "rav" and gabbaim and kehilla who should be losing sleep.
I have asked them about their stance and it continues to be an unreasonable one.
I'm just happy that I don't have to rely on them to advocate for our kids as to them the kids are least important.
Dear Olam etc, the people of this shul should be losing sleep-lots of it! One of the local paedophiles is a member of the shul. I wonder how many of them give a thought to their sons being in the same room, let alone letting them go to the bathroom unattended. The Rav and Board are well aware who it is, but no action was taken.ReplyDelete