If you yourself are (B”H) not a victim of CSA, then you know someone who is. Unfortunately, the issue of CSA, as well as other forms of child abuse, has been brushed under the rug in recent decades.
In the summer of 2011, JCW was launched to combat CSA, but immediately became a controversial organization. Many members of the Jewish community were concerned that various individuals posted on the Wall of Shame may have been falsely accused. In fact, this turned out to be the case.
When JCW received backlash for their errors, the organizers made a resolution to be more careful from now regarding investigation. And in fact, they succeeded at living up to their resolution in several instances. However, support for the organization continued to dwindle, until, due to lack of funding, they were forced to close down.
Now that JCW is reopening, it is important that they keep to fundamental standards to ensure solid and consistent support from the community.
● The “Wall of Shame” must be renamed. When you have a page showing the names and pictures of those who have been accused of CSA, you want to emphasize the purpose for which you are doing this. In this case, the purpose of such a page is for keeping the community safe – members of the community should be aware who to watch out for. To this end, the wall should be given a name to reflect this goal. (Perhaps “The Safety Wall,” or “The Wall of Warning.”)
● The methods of investigation must be clearly displayed on the website. We must know what lengths JCW goes to to investigate those who have been accused and/or arrested.
● A page should be displayed of all the members on the board, so that we know exactly who is calling the shots
● The overall atmosphere of the site should be positive rather than negative. This isn’t about anger, this isn’t about punishing those who have committed offenses; such matters are in Hashem’s hands. This is about keeping the community safe. This is about making sure that incidents of CSA are eliminated from the Jewish community.
● It would be great if the website could post Torah and Halachah related articles to do with preventing CSA. Also letters of the Rebbe speaking about the prevention of child abuse. It is crucial that the organization be presented from a Torah perspective, that one and all should be made aware that there is no room in the Torah observant community for those who would dare raise a hand against our children.
I am sympathetic to both sides of the very sensitive issue of keeping our community safe: Those who have been abused, and those who have been falsely accused.
I have friends and also relatives who have been abused. I have a pen pal who has been sitting in prison for eleven years, having been falsely accused of CSA. If you are the type of person who is not sympathetic toward victims of false accusations, I would recommend you see the website I have made for my friend: www.artistinacell.weebly.com
Well, you made it toward the end of my article here, thank you for reading, and now I’ll reveal that I myself am a victim of a false allegation of CSA. I am currently writing a book about my story.
From all that happened to me I can tell you, it is fundamentally important to take to mind two things regarding false allegations: Firstly, false allegations of CSA are more prevalent that we all want to believe. Secondly, where there is a false allegation of CSA, there is a real perpetrator out there who got away with it and is still out there committing offenses against children, R”L.
May it be Hashem’s will that we always make it our priority to put the guilty to justice while preserving the life and good name of the innocent. A big yesher koach to all those involved in this lofty endeavor.