Sullivan County, NY - Newly Erected Billboards on Rt. 17 Call For Awareness About Child Abuse In The Jewish Community
Sullivan County, NY - In a continued effort to curb abuse that seems more prevalent in the summer months, the Jewish Board of Advocates for Children has taken out two full size billboards in Sullivan County, urging parents to teach their children what to do if anyone touches them inappropriately. While the billboard located on the northbound side of Route 17 before the Monticello exit is written in English, the second billboard, located on Broadway in Monticello carries the same message in Yiddish, perhaps the first time that this topic has been addressed in Yiddish in such a public forum.
Both billboards carry the same message, albeit in a slightly different manner. The English billboard features an open Sefer Torah against a black background, the words inside the Sefer Torah urging parents to educate their children about the dangers of sexual abuse and to tell their children to run away, shout for help, call 911, call the police or inform a trusted adult if anyone molests them in any way. The Yiddish billboard features the same message, set against a cheerful, colorful banner featuring illustrations of small children playing outside. Both billboards carry the endorsement of leading poskim.
JBAC was founded in 2008 in an effort to promote the safety and welfare of children in yeshivos and non-public schools. Initially known as the N.Y.S. Yeshiva Parents Association, they successfully advocated for a law, passed in July 2007, authorizing all non public schools to fingerprint and background check their prospective employees so that schools could avoid hiring convicted sex offenders and other dangerous persons.
While some might find public billboards the wrong venue for delivering this important message, JBAC President and co-founder Elliot Pasik disagrees.
“Particularly during the summer, when children are at play, there is less supervision. Unfortunately, there are strange people in the community who want to harm our children. We have to stop them. Child abuse thrives in darkness. The more people talk about it, the greater wall of safety we are creating around them. Child abuse is a sickness. If you have a sickness you go straight to a doctor. These billboards are part of our medicine.”
Rabbi Dr. Asher Lipner, JBAC Vice President and co-founder of JBAC, shared his thoughts on this very serious subject with VIN News.
“Many parents ask me if it is safe to send their children to overnight camp because of the danger of molestation. There are many things that parents can do to protect their children even when they are not watching them. Talking to children openly and calmly about abuse is one of the most important things parents can do. It is also very important for parents to be selective about which camp and which school they send their children to. Nowadays there is no excuse for an institution that watches children not to have published safety guidelines that include the phone numbers of who to call when a crime is committed. With this new approach to child safety, our community can create a safe and healthy environment for our children both in the summer and all year round.”
From across the religious spectrum, rabbis from the Rabbinical Council of America to the Orthodox Union have urged the JBAC to continue in their efforts to raise child abuse awareness.
In an interview with VIN News, Pasik outlined JBAC’s plan to deal with this problem.
“We have to ramp up our advocacy. We have thousands of children in yeshivos in New York State and they are completely unregulated. Our plan is to have new laws passed that require mandatory fingerprinting and background checks in all yeshivos. Every single legal protection that applies to public schools must be required in yeshivos as well.”
Noted activist Mark Meyer Appel who has helped fund several initiative on child abuses issues, and President of the voice of justice said “we will continue with Hashems help to fund all educational banners and seminars that raise the awareness in our community.
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