For many years, sexual harrasment in the religious community was a tabboo subject, MO and Charedi communities alike. Even when major Rabbinic educators were convicted of such actions, schools were wary of educating Jewish youth on the subject for fear of being “not tzniusdig” and talking about the taboo of sex. The result is that many people don’t report harrasment for fear of being ostracized. Some don’t even understand the nature of sexual abuse, having never learned what it is.
I am proud to say that the wall of silence is being breached. Rav Shlomo Aviner, a generally Moderate RWMO figure in these parts, has publicly and unequivocally called for children to be educated on the matter from kindergarten – in both formal and informal contexts (such as Bnei Akiva). He bluntly stated that whatever potential damage that comes from this education (a rebuttal to the tzniut brigade) is more than offset by the need to protect our children. He also stated unequivocally to his students that people who commit such acts should be immediate grounds for going to the police, or at least abuse centers.
Rav Aviner, I don’t always agree with your positions, but today I wish to warmly congratulate you on your brave stand. I hope that many more spiritual leaders follow in your wake.