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Guidelines


Advice for Lag Ba'Omer

Male Mikveh (ritual bath) Protocol

High Holiday Guidelines for Synagogues

Camp Guidelines

 

 

Advice for Lag Ba'Omer.

9 April 2015

There are times in the Jewish calendar when our children are more vulnerable. Children and young people are keen to participate in certain Jewish festivals and celebrations, sometimes without a level of adult supervision. In Australia, there has been more and more publicity about concerns regarding our children's safety at Purim and Simchat Torah, often associated with alcohol abuse and other risk taking behaviour.

Another festival where there is potential risk for our young people is Lag Ba'Omer. In Australia it is customary for a number of shul communities and youth movements to run festive bonfires on their grounds to celebrate this festival.  It is celebrated on the 33rd day of the Omer and this year falls on the 7 May 2015. There are different views about the reason for the celebration on Lag Ba'Omer. Some say it commemorates the end of the deaths of 24,000 of Rabbi Akiva's students who were killed during the Omer. Others say it commemorates the yarzeit and legacy of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, who introduced  the world to his mystical teachings.

Tzedek would like to raise community awareness at this time. This awareness is based on experience from Israel. For the Child Protection Centre in Jerusalem, Lag Ba'Omer has become an annual nightmare it is the worst night of the year for child abuse.
The reason for this is OPPORTUNITY.

According to the Magen Children and Families Child Protection Agency,  thousands of children in Israel are out-and-about, generally with minimal or zero adult supervision. Such an evening highlights the need for increased awareness and vigilance in the community.

The risk and level of opportunity may not be the same in Australia, but nonetheless, some of our children attend these functions with groups of friends, possibly without a level of adult supervision.

Tzedek would like to share the Magen for Children and Families Child Protection Agency's advise at this time.  They suggest sitting down with your children before Lag Ba'Omer to calmly warn them about the nature of the risks and to give them practical tools and ground rules.

  1. On Lag Ba'Omer do not walk or hang around by yourself. Stay at all times with one or more friends.
  2. If someone who is not a part of your family or group, who is older (eg. more than 2 years your senior), even if they look religious, invites you to go with them, even to do a big mitzvah (eg. to help them with something, or to find an object or location), or with the offer of a present, firmly reject the offer and tell the person they should find an adult to help them.
  3. No touching or revealing areas of your or other people's bodies which are normally covered. Just say No and get away.
  4. Tell your parents. Especially if anyone tells you NOT to tell something to your parents, you must tell your parents straight away.Your parents will not be angry with you.
  5. Fix a to-be-home-by time.

 


Male Mikveh (ritual bath) Protocol

28 October 2014

Preventing and Dealing with Sexual Abuse of Youth in the Mikveh

This section principally draws upon the guidelines provided to the US National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.  It relates to those at risk of sexual abuse up to the age of 17 years.

The generic definition of sexual abuse provided by the CIPC is taken from the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children Handbook of Child Maltreatment.  It states:

'Child sexual abuse involves any sexual activity with a child where consent is not or cannot be given. This includes sexual contact that is accomplished by force or threat of force, regardless of the age of the participants, and all sexual contact between an adult and a child, regardless of whether there is deception or the child understands the sexual nature of the activity. Sexual contact between an older and a younger child also can be abusive if there is a significant disparity in age, development, or size, rendering the younger child incapable of giving informed consent. The sexually abusive acts may include sexual penetration, sexual touching, or non-contact sexual acts such as exposure or voyeurism.' 

The primary objective of monitoring sexual behaviour is to prevent, recognise, and respond to inappropriate and harmful (abusive) behaviours and to reinforce appropriate behaviours at the Mikveh.

Policy Recommendations

It is recommended that the Mikveh administration:

Ensures that every member of the administration and staff/volunteers have the relevant jurisdictional clearance to work with children (e.g. Working With Children Check).
Identifies situations in which there is potential risk of inappropriate sexual activity by adults and youth to identify particular:

  • times and locations for which the risk is considered especially heightened; and
  • individuals that may be considered at risk of either victimisation or of perpetrating abuse.
    • Personal variables may include: the age, developmental stage and personal history of youth attending the Mikveh (i.e. factors that may increase their vulnerability for example, children who come from difficult family circumstances), and the background of the adults (e.g. have allegations been made against them and/or have they been convicted of child sexual abuse-related offences?). 
    • Temporal variables may include: very quiet or busy times in the Mikveh.
    • Location variables may include: activity in the Mikveh that can occur in relative isolation and that might render the monitoring of individuals difficult or increase the likelihood of 'losing track' of Mikveh attendees.

Restricts use of facilities for Mikveh immersion purposes only (e.g. no swimming).
Restricts access to the Mikveh to youth accompanied by their father or a designated supervisor (proof of designation must be obtained).
Restricts access of alleged or convicted perpetrators to times when children are not present.
Defines the types of interpersonal interactions considered to be inappropriate or harmful. These might include:

  • sexual activity of any nature;
  • sexually provocative or degrading comments;
  • risqué jokes;
  • touching the body part of another individual;
  • intimate, romantic or sexual contact;
  • exposing individuals to pornography or involving youth in pornographic activities;
  • grooming;
  • attempts made towards seeking time alone with youth; and/or
  • bullying.

Defines the boundaries of tolerance for interactions between youth and between adults and youth, so as to be able to identify when someone has crossed the line.
Defines procedures for admitting youth to and releasing youth from the Mikveh so that their whereabouts are always known. This might involve the documentation/logging of booking in and booking out attendees, as well as documenting who the youth is supervised by whilst using the Mikveh.
Mandates at least two adult monitors to be present at all times within sight of youth using the Mikveh.
Defines privacy procedures for when youth are toileting, showering, and changing clothes.
Restricts and clearly outlines the hours for Mikveh use; there should be no 'open slather' (i.e. unrestricted hours).
Ensures safe environments for Mikvehs, with good visibility to multiple individuals. There should be:

  • no opportunity for concealment;
  • clear lines of sight;
  • bright lighting;
  • windows in internal doors; and
  • a no-closed-door policy.

Has policies and procedures to monitor which people outside of the Mikveh organisation (such as tradesmen) are allowed into the Mikveh, and under what circumstances.
Installs external CCTV.
Considers separate Mikveh facilities or times for youth, accompanied by at least two adult monitors who are present at all times and are within sight of youth using the Mikveh (accompanied by a separate Protocol).
Implementing the policy

The chain of responsibility for youth vis-à-vis use of the Mikveh must be clearly established. That is:

The policy must be clearly communicated in writing to all Mikveh users (adults and youth) it is recommended that Mikveh members are asked to sign an appropriate document outlining the rules when paying their annual fees.
The roles and responsibilities of the Mikveh administration and its monitors must be clearly defined and differentiated.
It is essential to clarify when the Mikveh administration is responsible for youth and when specific monitors/caregivers are responsible. The development of a policy relating to when the Mikveh organisation starts and stops being responsible for youth attending the Mikveh is recommended.
Consider who is responsible for youth before and after Mikveh activities.
The policy outlined in the protocol must be monitored on a continuous basis. This includes defining who to monitor, and what to monitor.
Enforce the protocol by confronting inappropriate or harmful behaviours and by reporting these behaviours if necessary. Reporting procedures must be in place. 
Carry out spot checks.
Conclusion

Prevention of sexual abuse of youth in the Mikveh is a communal responsibility necessitating formal guidelines. Guidelines for sexual abuse must be based on zero tolerance of any offenders. Mikveh administrations must take overall responsibility, and the lines of responsibility must be clear. Victims of sexual abuse, as well as their family/social support networks, must be protected. Punishment of sexual abusers must be sought through civil and religious channels. In all circumstances, police should be contacted immediately whenever sexual abuse is alleged to have occurred.

Please contact Tzedek (info@tzedek.org.au) if you require any further information or assistance in relation to this Protocol.

DISCLAIMER

These guidelines developed by Tzedek are to be used as a guide only and do not represent legal or professional advice. The materials supplied by Tzedek are provided voluntarily as a public service. The information and advice provided is made available in good faith but is provided solely on the basis that readers and organisations, together with their employees and volunteers, will be responsible to make their own assessment of the matters discussed herein and are advised to verify to their own satisfaction all relevant representations, statements and information. Tzedek does not accept liability for any injury, loss or damage incurred by reliance on the information herein or advice provided by it.

 

To download a pdf version of these guidelines please click here.

To download a pdf version of these guidelines in Hebrew please click here.

 


 

High Holiday Guidelines for Synagogues


1 September 2013

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.
  • 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 be locked and always easily observable from the outside.
  • 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 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.

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.

 

DISCLAIMER

These guidelines developed by Tzedek are to be used as a guide only and do not represent legal or professional advice. The materials supplied by Tzedek are provided voluntarily as a public service. The information and advice provided is made available in good faith but is provided solely on the basis that readers and organisations, together with their employees and volunteers, will be responsible to make their own assessment of the matters discussed herein and are advised to verify to their own satisfaction all relevant representations, statements and information. Tzedek does not accept liability for any injury, loss or damage incurred by reliance on the information herein or advice provided by it.


 

Camp Guidelines


25 November 2013

TZEDEK CAMP GUIDELINES

Keeping Our Children Safe at Camp

Camps run by Jewish community organisations and youth groups serve as a great activity for children during the school holidays. Participation in camp is a wonderful way for children to develop independence and resilience, gain invaluable social skills and forge lasting bonds with fellow campers. It is also a great way for children to develop a strong Jewish identity.

Camp organisers must, of course, provide a safe and secure environment for participating children. Tzedek, which strives to attain a Jewish community free of child sexual abuse, recommends that camp organisers adopt appropriate guidelines (as suggested below). Tzedek is aware of several cases of child sexual abuse that have occurred during camps. For this reason, we urge parents/guardians to initiate an age-appropriate dialogue about personal safety with their children before they attend camp.

If you are a parent/guardian, please refer to http://www.tzedek.org.au/resources/parents-2/ for resources, important facts and ideas about how to talk to your child about body safety.

 

Prior to camp, parents/guardians should:

  • Seek out education on issues relating to body safety and child sexual abuse.
  • Talk to their child about body safety and child sexual abuse.
  • Ask camp management if they have a child protection policy and a code of conduct; if so, request to view the document(s).
  • Ensure camp management conveys rules to camp participants (and parents/guardians) pertaining to appropriate behaviour relating to the personal safety of campers.

Prior to camp, camp management should:

  • Ensure they have a child protection policy and a code of conduct.
  • Require all camp staff/volunteers to have a current Working with Children Check.
  • Ensure that all prospective camp staff/volunteers are personally interviewed and provide professional recommendations that are duly checked.
  • Ensure staff/volunteer training in the organisation's child protection policy.
  • Clearly establish with parents/guardians/campers/staff/volunteers what constitutes appropriate and inappropriate behavior around personal safety. This should be incorporated in a code of conduct.
  • Ensure that staff/volunteers are appropriately educated on issues relating to the personal safety of children.
  • Ensure that staff/volunteers are educated about child sexual abuse prevention, and how to recognise and react appropriately to allegations of child sexual abuse (or any form of assault). This includes being on alert for signs of abuse and inappropriate interactions between camp staff/volunteers and campers.
  • Ensure that there are sufficient staff members/volunteers to enable the proper supervision of camp participants at all times. The ratio of campers/staff/volunteers should be published and adhered to at all times during camp.
  • Ensure that staff/volunteers are prepared to answer questions from parents/guardians regarding the care and personal safety of children before, during and after camp. Examples of the types of questions that the staff/volunteers should be able to answer include:
    • What training do camp staff/volunteers receive about the personal safety of children and the prevention of child sexual abuse?
    • How are campers made aware of what to do if they feel unsafe?
    • Are camp staff/volunteers allowed to be alone with a camper? If not, how is this ensured?
    • How do the camp management/staff/volunteers monitor interactions between older and younger campers?
    • What are the sleeping arrangements for campers and staff/volunteers?
    • What are the camp's policies on parent/guardian-camper communication?
    • Who is responsible for enforcing camp rules and regulations, and how are these implemented?

During camp, camp management should:

  • Ensure all policies and procedures are being implemented in full.
  • Ensure that all rooms within camp grounds that are not required for camp activities cannot be accessed.
  • Ensure that all rooms that are required for camp activities are within clear visibility and easily accessible.
  • Ensure that doors are kept open during camp activities to ensure visibility and access.
  • Ensure that all activities can be easily observed.
  • Monitor who is on the camp grounds and under what circumstances.
  • Hold staff/volunteers accountable to report aberrant behaviour (and ensure they know how to properly report such a situation).
  • Enforce a zero tolerance for alcohol and drugs.
  • Ensure that camp staff/volunteers are never alone with a camper. Camp staff/volunteers should ideally be working in pairs (or more) at all times.
  • Ensure that under no circumstances is any camp staff/volunteer alone with a camp participant in the sleeping accommodation or in bathrooms.
  • Ensure camp participants are always given appropriate privacy while changing or showering.
  • Ensure that older camp participants do not have unsupervised interactions with younger camp participants.
  • Accommodate the needs of campers who may feel unsafe. This includes allowing them to contact their parents/guardians.

After camp, parents/guardians should:

  • Discuss all aspects of the camp experience with their child.
  • Observe and listen to their child's reactions.

Tzedek recommends that these Guidelines be circulated to all camp management, staff/volunteers and parents/guardians to support appropriate and responsible practices for the safety of children. It is also recommended that camp management develop a list of Frequently Asked Questions, such as those provided in the Guidelines above.

 

DISCLAIMER

These guidelines developed by Tzedek are to be used as a guide only and do not represent legal or professional advice. The materials supplied by Tzedek are provided voluntarily as a public service. The information and advice provided is made available in good faith but is provided solely on the basis that readers and organisations, together with their employees and volunteers, will be responsible to make their own assessment of the matters discussed herein and are advised to verify to their own satisfaction all relevant representations, statements and information. Tzedek does not accept liability for any injury, loss or damage incurred by reliance on the information herein or advice provided by it.

ABN: 68 722 431 943

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