The Reporting of Child Abuse Among Orthodox Jews

Letter to the Editor - NY Times
May 18, 2012

While "Ultra-Orthodox Shun Their Own for Reporting Child Sex Abuse" (front page, May 10) does reflect the negative position taken within certain Orthodox Jewish communities toward the reporting of child abuse to secular authorities, it is important to note that such positions do not represent the Orthodox community at large.

On July 25, 2011, the Rabbinical Council of America, the largest Orthodox rabbinical body in North America, issued a statement reaffirming its longstanding position that "those with reasonable suspicion or first-hand knowledge of abuse or endangerment have a religious obligation to report that abuse to the secular legal authorities without delay." Recognizing that "unreported abuse or endangerment can be life-threatening," the Rabbinical Council of America clearly explained that the biblical verse "You shall not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor" mandates that one must do all in one's power to prevent harm to others.

A young child is the most vulnerable member of our society. Adult protection of that child from harm is a fundamental responsibility. There can be no excuse for failing to report reasonable suspicions of abuse to the authorities. Those who act to protect children in such fashion should be lauded, not ostracized.

President, Rabbinical Council of America
Englewood, N.J., May 10, 2012