Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Canonist

I normally do not comment on current events. I keep, more or less, to the light-hearted, family blog format. The recent, um, stir, though, is all over the place. I have resisted talking about it until now. I was glad to come across Canonist's View of The Infamous Article. As I was reading The Article myself, there was much that disturbed me. He's really put his finger on it.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I really enjoy your blog, and find the entries interesting and the comments stimulating. I find that you are open-minded and accepting of all types of people and ideologies, and i respect that. however, i was really bothered by this entry, and i feel compelled to respond. Do you really think that this is an appropriate topic to discuss in public on a blog, by frum women(or men)? I do not have the christian view that this topic is a bad one. however, i do believe that this is something that frum people do not discuss publically- because of tznius. What do you think, Ayelet?

PsychoToddler said...

This is exactly the problem. This isn't an issue of tznius. This is an issue of the safety of our children.

If there was someone going around your neighborhood stealing bikes, would you have a problem discussing it in public? If it turned out the bike thief was a frum yid, would that keep you from telling your friends so they can keep a better eye on their children when they played outside?

This is no different, except it's 100 times worse.

Ayelet said...

Anon - thank you for your kind words (although I wish you'd identify yourself so I could appreciate your comments and understand you questions better). Initially, I had reservations about addressing this issue on my blog, out in the open. I decided that the issue was simply to important to "ignore". I am not here to judge anyone or to decide who's right and who's wrong. But there are very important lessons that need to be taken here.

One of the points in the article that I found most striking was (if the story goes as he tells it) his parents' reaction to his complaints. Don't get me wrong, when such allegations are made, everyone who is aware needs to take them seriously and make a thorough investigation. It is their moral responsibility to do so. But the power of nigi'ah - personal bias? ulterior motive? self-interest? - is so mighty, that people who will be affected by the situation may be swayed by the (sometimes unconscious) evil inclination in every human to rationalize and make excuses. This justification is pretty horrific, I concede, but I can see where it could come from. I could never make such a defense for parents. Their every fiber should stiffen with the resolution to investigate every detail. And, let us say, for argument's sake, that they found the story to be fabricated, parents should scrutinize what prompted their child to do that. Obviously, an underlying emotional question must be addressed. To think that parents can fail so abysmally is beyond my comprehension. But, perhaps, there are parents out there who are clueless. At least this kind of story might open their eyes to possibilities that they would have otherwise dismissed out of hand.

In answer to your question, I appreciate your concern for keeping within the guidelines of tzni'us. I heartily agree with that and value the modesty in which things of sexual nature are handled in our society. However, we cannot afford to ignore the subject on those grounds. Especially in the world in which we live, where messages about sexuality are plastered all over busses and billboards and piped through the speakers at the malls and supermarkets, it is imperative that the topic be tackled. I would rather field questions and inform my children than have them educated by friends who got their education from television, magazines, or worse.

But, even for those parents that feel they have erected the necessary barriers to prevent infiltration of information from objectionable sources, it is absolutely imperative to prepare a child to recognize abuse. Just the way we teach never to go in the street without a grown-up or what to do if you get lost, we must teach a child to identify inappropriate behavior: A grown-up or friend should not touch or ask you to touch your private parts - those covered up by a bathing suit - not because they're bad or dirty, but because they're private. If you ever feel uncomfortable about something or someone, tell a grown-up you trust. Grown-ups shouldn't tell you to keep secrets for them - tell someone. If you're not sure - tell me. We can talk about it together.

These lessons are as critical as they are basic. My ideal would be to have the school reinforce these ideas as well, so that no child is left wondering if what he's going through is normal even though it feels weird.

Ayelet said...

To clarify my position, I agree that topics of sexuality should not be discussed by frum people on the internet. The topic here is a very different one: child molestation and how our community handles it. The only way to address that is through public discussion.

Rebecca said...

I can't even read the article, it is so upsetting and scary. Aaron no longer lets me watch the news because I'm neurotic and paranoid and I just sit and cry when I hear the things that go on. (really, I'm not lying)