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Rabbis urged to undergo training in child protection

Safeguarding organisation highlights gaps in provision

    Basic training in child protection should be given to rabbis, trustees, professionals and volunteers in all Jewish organisations, the cross-communal Jewish youth network Reshet said this week.

    While it has found examples of “excellent” safeguarding practices within some Jewish organisations, gaps remain in provision.

    There was evidence that in some cases, checks on the suitability to work with children had not been made on families offering home hospitality to students and youth, or to young people on twinning programmes.

    Launching a paper on safeguarding, Reshet said its plans included a campaign aimed at parents highlighting the questions they should ask about safeguarding measures for holiday schemes or residential programmes.

    The cross-communal network, supported by UJIA and the Jewish Leadership Council, has worked with 37 Jewish organisations on improving safeguarding procedures and training.

    It has had to make clear to some organisations that emphasis should be on the welfare of the child rather than on protecting the reputation of the community. According to the paper, drafted by Reshet executive director Shelley Marsh: “Within faith-based groups, including the Jewish community, there remains a culture of reporting safeguarding concerns internally rather than reporting to the appropriate authorities.”

    The belief that abuse could not happen in a faith group was what one sociololgist termed “the holy hush”.

    Those responsible for working directly with children and young people “must report disclosures of abuse externally”, Reshet urged.

    At Monday’s launch in central London, JLC chairman Jonathan Goldstein said British Jewry was “not immune from the issues of a modern society” and safeguarding youth was “an integral part of securing our future”.

    Lawyer Joanne Greenaway, who leads on safeguarding for the United Synagogue, said it had “invested very heavily” in this area.

    Its central safeguarding team had increased from one to five with local co-ordinators recruited in congregations.

    The US had liaised with other groups such as the Methodists on thorny issues such as to how to reintegrate offenders into the community after prison.

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