Child abusers do not rest on holidays

Supervise and educate to help keep your children safe over the chagim/yom tov.

Along with the joy and happiness of holiday seasons comes an increased risk of the unthinkable happening to our precious children.

In fact, many people who are active in child safety/abuse prevention notice a significant spike in abuse-related calls around the holidays, ostensibly since many or most children have less structure in their lives over the holidays than during the school year. Additionally, children are often exposed to a far greater number of older children and adults during these times of the year, and although stranger danger is a genuine concern, most molesters are people well known to the victims.

Here is what you can do to help keep your children safe over the holidays:

  • Supervision – see that your children are always supervised because there is no “herd immunity” against child abuse. Worded differently, don’t delude yourselves into thinking that your children are safe just because so many of them are not being properly watched during shul/synagogue hours or over the long afternoons. Quite to the contrary, that places them all at higher risk.
  • Educate Yourselves – learn about the blind spots and common misperceptions that lull parents into a false sense of security, among them The Halo Effect and The Theory of the Just World. Study best practices in child safety education so you are better equipped to help protect your kids.
  • Educate Your Children – Have refresher child-safety talks with your children. Child safety education is extraordinarily effective, if you utilize effective, research-based techniques that will educate and empower your children without frightening them.

Some important, basic components of an effective child safety/abuse prevention program are teaching your children that…

  • No one is ever permitted to tell them to keep secrets from their parents
  • Their bodies belong to them – teaching them the notion of ownership over their personal space
  • There is good touching and bad touching – meaning that some touching is okay, while other touching (such as in a spot covered by a bathing suit) is inappropriate
  • No one has the right to make them feel uncomfortable

Here are two child-safety tools that will empower you to have these conversations with your children – a 5-minute child-safety video, and a 9-minute video that covers this subject in greater detail. This version of the 9-minute video comes with Hebrew subtitles. Please note that we did not include any religious content in these videos so the broadest range of parents can benefit from them.

Finally, please join me tonight on our Bright Beginnings Instagram page @brightbeginningsforum at 9:00 pm Eastern Time for an InstaLive on this important and timely topic.

About the Author
Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, founding dean of Yeshiva Darchei Noam of Monsey, and director of Bright Beginnings, is an innovative educator, author, and child safety advocate. He is the publisher of two child safety books that are in over 120,000 homes in three languages, as well as the groundbreaking Bright Beginnings Gemara and Chumash workbooks that are in over 100 schools. He received the prestigious 2008 Covenant Award in recognition of his contribution to Jewish education. His most recent project is the Bright Beginnings Under-a-Minute Parenting Clips posting daily videos by Rabbi Horowitz on a wide range of topics on Instagram @brightbeginningsforum, and via WhatsApp by messaging “Sign-Up” to 845-540-2414. Rabbi Horowitz conducts child abuse prevention and parenting workshops in Jewish communities around the world.
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