Tzedek, the Australian victims advocacy organization, has issued High Holiday child sex absue prevention guidelines. As you read them, notice how few haredi synagogues meet any of Tzedek's requirements.
High Holiday Guidelines for Synagogues
During the High Holidays our synagogues are filled with children celebrating this wonderful time in the Jewish calendar.
Synagogues seek to provide a safe and secure environment for the children of their congregations. In the interests of ensuring such an environment, Tzedek recommends that synagogues adopt and operationalise the following guidelines.
Synagogues should:• Require all children under the age of bar/bat mitzvah to be in a supervised children’s program if they are not attending services with their parents.Tzedek expects that synagogues have broad policies and procedures in place to address the issue of child sexual abuse. These guidelines should therefore be followed in conjunction with the individual policies and procedures. Also, it is expected that appropriate remedial action should be taken if there is knowledge or suspicion of an incident. It is important to emphasise that ALL incidents MUST be reported to the police immediately.
• Require all staff of supervised children’s programs to have a current Working with Children Check.
• Ensure that there are at least two staff members in the room at all times during a supervised children’s program. Further, the room in which the supervised children’s program is held should never to be locked.
• If a bathroom is not attached to the room in which the supervised children’s program is held, staff should escort children to the bathroom in a group, never alone.
• Ensure that all buildings within synagogue premises that are not required for services cannot be accessed.
• Establish and implement a roster for two congregants (who hold current • Working with Children Checks) to walk the synagogue grounds and keep an eye out for children who are not attending the service or a supervised children’s program.
Tzedek would like to take the opportunity to wish the Jewish community a Shana Tova U’metukah. Tzedek would also like to extend gratitude for the support, cooperation and endorsement of this important initiative.
Here are the guidelines as a PDF file you can download and print for your rabbi: