Child Safety in Shul
Important Safety Concern We May Not Be Thinking About: Children Safety at the Shul
Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur mark the beginning of the Jewish new year. It is a time of self-reflection, when G-d is especially close to us and hears our prayers. It is also a time when parents and children spend long hours in shul.
The combination of a large number of children and prolonged hours, when parents may not know exactly where each child is, could lead to a potential arena for harm. We know when children are unsupervised, they are at higher risk for child sexual abuse. Therefore, it is important to remind ourselves and our children about safety, as well as unsafe touches.
Here are some points to keep in mind:
- Doors should always remain open where children are playing.
- Your children should know that children’s clothes should remain on at all times, even while playing make believe games such a “doctor.”
- Teach your children, from an early age, that telling a parent is not considered a “breach of confidentiality.” Sexual abuse thrives on secrecy.
- Remind your children to always “ask first.” For example, if someone offers them candy during Simchas Torah, they should say that they need to ask their parents first. “Asking first” serves both the need of protection and as a means of prevention, as it prompts both children and parents to check-in with each other.
- Tell your children that they should never get candy from someone who asks for something in return; for example: no kiss, hug, or handshakes.
- Remind your children that they should play with children who are closer to their own age. Children should play with other children and not with adults.
- Accompany your children to the bathroom, even if they manage independently. Instruct older children to always go to the bathroom in pairs and wait for each other outside.
- Parents should check on their children periodically. Try to know where they are and with whom they are playing. There is no substitute for parental presence.
Project S.A.R.A.H. is offering online services at this time, and is available to consult with you if you have any questions or concerns. For more information, call 973-777-7638 ext. 643 or email [email protected].
Wishing you and your family health and safety!