It takes a village to raise a child, and a village to protect one from abuse. That is why each and every one of us should read – and heed – the latest report from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse.
This isn’t related any individual case. Instead, it summarises the themes to emerge from hundreds of interviews by those who experienced sexual abuse as children in religious institutions.
It creates a clear picture of what child sexual abuse looks like in a synagogue, yeshiva, after-school class, youth group or summer camp.
It shows what type of abuse is more likely. It shows whether victims are likely to report it, and to whom. It shows what emotions dictate a victim’s actions and what happens to them after the abuse. We hear their anonymised voices, their harrowing descriptions.
- Support helpline for female Jewish victims of sexual violence launched
- The recent IICSA report into child sexual abuse rings true
- OPINION: Religious children ‘don’t report sex abuse due to shame and guilt’
Shame on us if we, as Jews, feel we have nothing to learn from this, if we feel this doesn’t apply to us, if we feel “it could never happen here”. It could. And it does. The inquiry’s initial remit was too limited – boarding schools and such. Now, two years later, enough have come forward to say: “Actually, I was abused here, not there.”
So it has just announced a new investigation that will peel off the closed lid of religious institutions – places of worship, culture, preparation, education. This includes yeshivot, shuls, extra-curricular classes, camps, youth groups… the works.
Are we ready? Are we really that confident that we’re bulletproof? We’ll see. In the meantime, those with any sense are best advised to look again, and to tighten up.