Funny, and obviously exaggerated. Yet, is it really that far off from the truth?
Pesach is difficult. Our “To Do” list is a mile long and most of what needs to get done falls on mothers. Whether at home cooking and cleaning or packing up the entire family for a Pesach away; and how about you lucky ones that get to cook and pack as you split the Yom Tov between staying home and going away?!? Fun!
At the end of the day we all want the same thing…a nice Yom Tov. We try our very best. We tell ourselves, this year we will be more organized…we will try out that new recipe, we will not yell at the kids, we will actually come to the seder rested and relaxed. Right?!?
Inevitably, Pesach comes and everything is miraculously done, but what about our children? Kids are let out weeks early in preparation for Pesach and are basically left to fend for themselves.
I’m not judging! Believe me, I do the same, but this year we at Magenu want you to take a moment to protect our children by planning ahead.
FACT: The real prevalence of child sexual abuse is not known because so many victims do not disclose or report their abuse, even more so in the Jewish community.
FACT: Even if the true prevalence of child sexual abuse is not known, most will agree that there will be 500,000 babies born in the US this year that will be sexually abused before they turn 18 if we do not prevent it. Even if you do not want to believe this for our community, we can all agree that ONE child being abused, is one too many.
FACT: The primary reason that the public is not sufficiently aware of child sexual abuse is that 73% of child victims do not tell anyone about the abuse for at least a year. 45% of victims do not tell anyone for at least 5 years. Some never disclose. This is just as true, if not more so, for our Jewish children.
FACT: Children of every gender, age, race, ethnicity, background, socioeconomic status and family structure are at risk. No child is immune.
FACT: Most victims know and trust their abusers. It isn’t strangers our children have to fear most.
FACT: Most sexual abuse of children occurs in a residence, typically that of the victim or perpetrator. 84% of sexual victimization of children under age 12 occurs in a residence. Even older children are most likely to be assaulted in a residence. 71% of sexual assaults on children age 12-17 occur in a residence.
Times that are unstructured are prime times for children to get lost in the shuffle. Pesach is a time when many family members are together, along with neighbors and family friends. It is a time to be more vigilant, not less. Professionals in our community report that the phone calls regarding victimization spike during our holiday time due to the increase in close proximity of families and unsupervised moments.
But, not all is bleak. We at Magenu know that there is a lot we can do as parents to prevent these statistics:
- Discuss with your child the rules of body boundaries. Be clear; No one is allowed to touch the parts of your body covered by a bathing suit or underwear, no one is allowed to look at these parts of the body, no one should be talking to you about these parts of the body. In addition, you should not be touching or looking at anyone else’s private parts of the body. When saying “no one” include specifics such as, “even uncle so and so, even cousin so and so,” children often times love and respect their abuser and are therefore, scared to get him or her in trouble.
- Tell your child that if someone does try to do something that makes them uncomfortable, even if they can’t say “no” or “stop” the most important thing they can do is to “TELL” and that they will never get in trouble for that.
- Discuss with your child beforehand what his/her plans are for when you will be busy and if he/she is comfortable with that plan.
- Make sure your child knows that even though you are busy you want to know where he/she is, who he/she is with, and what he/she is doing at all times.
- Do not let your child go anywhere alone. Your child should always be with a buddy.
- Check in with your child at frequent intervals and make sure he/she is ok, even if it takes time away from your cooking.
- If your child says he/she does not want to go with someone, whether it be a family member such as a cousin or uncle or a neighbor etc. listen to him/her, ask questions and don’t just get annoyed, because it disturbs your cleaning time.
- Set rules of the house; no closed doors, periodic check-ins with mommy every half hour, playtime only in areas that are visible.
- Tell your child that you love him/her and want to know what is happening in his/her life even when you seem super busy.
Remember, our children are the most important people in our lives! Make them feel that way! Pesach is about passing down our tradition to our children – making sure they are healthy and safe is part of that heritage.
Magenu wishes you a wonderful, enriching, and safe Pesach!