Study Finds ‘Glaring Gaps’ in Abuse Prevention

June 27, 2017

Source: The Jewish Week


A new study, the first of its kind in the Jewish community to chart how prepared schools and camps are to prevent child sexual abuse, reveals that protections are not uniformly understood or implemented. The study — conducted by Jumpstart, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit that funds and supports Jewish innovation, and being reported on here for the first time — found that only 58 percent of the 68 Jewish day schools surveyed reported having a written policy to deal with child sexual abuse.

While 95 percent of the 90 Jewish overnight camps surveyed had a written policy to deal with child sexual abuse, the detail, breadth and application of those policies remained lacking, according to project director and CEO of Jumpstart, Joshua Avedon. (Two hundred Jewish overnight camps and 140 Jewish day schools were contacted for the study.)

“The most important finding is that there’s a lack of understanding about what best practices are to create a safety framework,” said Avedon. “Even organizations that are attempting to do this work and putting into place some measures and controls don’t fully understand what needs to get done.”

The study, conducted by sociologist Steven M. Cohen and abuse expert Shira Berkovits in consultation with the Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC) and the RAVSAK network of community Jewish day schools, found that despite broad adoption of written child sexual abuse policies, the content of those policies are not always consistent with best practices. For example, only 26 percent of day schools indicated they had a policy in place that prohibited staff from being alone with a child unless visible to others.

Though some results of the survey were “disturbing” for Avedon — particularly that 40 percent of the day schools surveyed had no policy on child sexual abuse whatsoever — he believes the Jewish community is approaching a “tipping point” about this issue.

“There is a sense that the Jewish community is finally ready to grapple with this problem,” he said.

Read the whole article in The Jewish Week.

Updated: Jul. 05, 2017