The Jewish community’s primary trainer in youth provider has said it held a safeguarding “policy amnesty” to work out what organisations had in-place and where the gaps were.
Shelley Marsh, director of Reshet, acknowledged the intervention in online testimony at the Independent Inquiry in Child Sexual Abuse in Religious Settings this week.
Set up in 2015, Reshet trains synagogue leaders and informal educators delivering youth provision in the Jewish community and Marsh said she asked to see safeguarding policies “with no judgements” because she wanted Jewish groups to be “open and honest”.
Asked about policy inconsistencies within the community, she admitted possible “confusion” in the area of child protection, adding that “it definitely was challenged… I think there have been improvements”.
Marsh was asked about testimony from Migdal Emunah activist Yehudis Goldsobel that Orthodox Jewish groups would only engage with other Orthodox groups. “I perceive that to be true,” said Marsh. “I think it’s a problem.”
She described the lack of quality assurance in child protection training as “a real challenge” for the community, saying: “I don’t think it’s a greater challenge to one part of the Jewish community than another. It’s across-the-board.”
Marsh later denied calling Migdal Emunah’s content “raw and unpalatable” but said: “There are ways in which Ms Goldsobel may have spoken that people have struggled to hear.”
Although the NSPCC is one of Reshet’s two main partners, she said NSPCC’s 2015 child protection document specifically for the Jewish community was “of its time,” criticising phrases such as “many Jewish children are taught acceptable ways to dress and behave”.
Marsh said: “I didn’t see it when I went to a variety of synagogues or youth organisations… I don’t think it was the most useful document to share with the Jewish community.”
Ms Marsh states that the safeguarding training is scenario based, and that this is relevant to the community.
She highlights the importance of ensuring that situational nuances are meaningful for the target audience. pic.twitter.com/aIPSNhO1sN
— InquiryCSA (@InquiryCSA) May 11, 2020