Child Protection is rightly becoming a priority for organisations across our community. The new initiatives that we have brought in at the United Synagogue are only the beginning. We all have a role in being accountable for our children, even when we have every reason to assume they are safe.
Having heard from individuals who have been affected by child abuse, we appreciate the magnitude of these incidents and know we must do everything we can to prevent incidents from occurring. Nobody should have to go through the pain and trauma they have experienced.
From the leadership of our organisation, to a volunteer on Shabbat morning, we hope to promote an atmosphere where everyone will shoulder responsibility. Whether we like it or not, shul services, cheders, trips and activities require us both to have correct procedures in place and to be constantly aware. Our new child protection framework ensures that there will be trained individuals at every level of the community. But this too is not enough.
The only way to make sure there is true zero tolerance is for all of us to be aware of what’s going on around us. We have been putting robust systems in place, but it is crucial that all of us are able to spot signs of abuse and to report any concern. With this in mind, the video that we have produced is designed to provide basic awareness and to be disseminated widely across our organisation and beyond.
Each and every one of us needs to be vigilant and to take responsibility. At local level in our shuls we have appointed and trained a dedicated, experienced cohort of Community Safeguarding Coordinators who are available for anyone to approach with any concern and who, in any given case, will work closely with our central team who will, in turn refer to the statutory authorities.
For an organisation, to get Child Protection right is a huge undertaking, both of time and expense. But the key point for us is to raise awareness of, and sensitivity around, this important issue. I hope that will impact far beyond The US.