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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Power to the Parents

I often receive notes and comments from readers about my blog making a difference in their budget, perhaps they dropped a service they had previously through was necessary or have changed some spending habits for the better.

Today I received a note from a commentor who had a moment of hashgacha who took the message regarding culture in the last post and took some ACTION. You did the right thing Mom and I'm sure that your son with thrive outside of his current Yeshiva environment with parents who are willing to take action and do the right thing.

I hope that this blog and blogs like it help to change the culture for the better.

Comment below:

This post is hashgacha pratis. My son was assaulted in his right-wing yeshiva dorm last week for the second time this year. He said the wrong thing to a kid and was hit in the eye, has lacerations on his forehead. Worse, he was held down and poked in the butt (clothed) and called gay.

The menahel has done nothing. He told my husband "it's just boys." There is NO dorm supervision during the day. We are outraged by the lack of concern from the school. In fact, they are trying to make us seem like over-protective parents.

I'm so ashamed to say we were considering sending him back to finish the year as we don't want to send him out-of-state, or home-school, but after reading this, it is clear. We're pulling him out immediately. His yeshiva career may be over for mesivta (he's 15), but he will learn REAL Yiddishkeit with caring tutors.

I have to say, I have slept better having him home for the last week than I have all year. That should tell me something. This has been the worst experience for us and has given me such a feeling of revulsion for the frum community that supports this Chillul Hashem.


David said...

It can be very scary to resolve to do the right thing. However, after the incident is over, having done the right thing is its own reward.

Kol haKavod!

lion of zion said...

kol hakavod to her.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how many other readers are affected by this same problem. I can't believe these are two isolated incidents.

alpidarkomama said...

This brought a tear to my eye. I'm so happy the mother did the right thing by her child. What happened in the dorm is truly a chillul hashem. The other boy should be arrested for assault. Gevalt.

aml said...

Fantastic. This says it all, "I have to say, I have slept better having him home for the last week than I have all year. That should tell me something." Good for you mama!

Anonymous said...

why don't you out the yeshiva - so other parents will not send their children there and will be safe - what happened at that yeshiva may be a crime - the same crime that police officers in new york are accused of and are currently standing trial for

Anonymous said...

The greatest peace of mind is knowing you have done the right thing for your child. Kol Hakovod.

Lion of Zion said...

"why don't you out the yeshiva - so other parents will not send their children there and will be safe"

that's a good point

Avi said...

Hang in there, parent. You're doing the right thing.

Shoshana Z. said...

After your son has time to adjust and things have calmed down a bit, consider having some family counseling in order to deal with the inevitable emotional strain these incidents have caused him. In my opinion this is very important in order for the child to have some closure and transition in to happier and healthier life at home.

JS said...

Congrats on finally standing up for yourself and your child. I hate to be a wet blanket, but, frankly, this is what you're supposed to do. Reminds me of a Chris Rock routine in which he bemoans people taking credit and acting proud for merely doing what they are supposed to do. One of his examples is "I take care of MY kids." Very sad that our frum culture is leading to people forgetting what they are supposed to do.

Additionally, you should out the school. Who knows how many other students are suffering? Do you really think your child is the only one who was beaten and sexually assaulted? People complain about rabbis and school officials keeping things under wraps, but sometimes parents are just as guilty of this.

Which brings me to my next point. I hinted to it above, but your child was sexually assaulted - certainly legally, but also psychologically. Of course make sure he is OK, but the fact that a sexual assault (and a homosexual one at that) occurred in the yeshiva and the principal did nothing is just indicative of the entire attitude in the system towards homosexuality and sexual abuse - forget the military, it's "don't ask, don't tell" in the yeshivas. Don't ask them to do anything and don't tell outside authorities what happened.

Big fan said...

NAME THE YESHIVA. It is the only way to make sure it does not happen again. And it is l'toeles for all of us with boys in HS and upper elemntary school considering where to send our sons.

JS said...

New York Penal Code:
130.52 Forcible touching.
A person is guilty of forcible touching when such person intentionally, and for no legitimate purpose, forcibly touches the sexual or other intimate parts of another person for the purpose of degrading or abusing such person; or for the purpose of gratifying the actor's sexual desire.

For the purposes of this section, forcible touching includes squeezing, grabbing or pinching.

Anonymous said...

It's not just boys or the really right wing yeshivas. When I was in the 6th grade in a MO yeshiva, a bunch of girls grabbed another girl pinned her down and forced down her underwear in the middle of the classroom so they could "count her pubic hairs". That memory still scars me and I wasn't even the one it happened to- I was just another geek praying to God that they wouldn't decide to pick on me next. In some ways girls are worse. THey can say the nastiest things.

Orthonomics said...

The stories here and at imamother are downright horrifying. I went to public school and I have never heard of such horrifying bullying. We heard stories about kids "trashcanning" other kids or throwing them in the locker room shower, but I don't recall ever witnessing any of this happening. There were a few fist fights, mostly between girl gangs.

Goodness, with the exception of two neighborhood girls who would walk behind me and call me a nerd after the bus and the other kids left, the thing I had to put up that was sexual in nature was a boy who called me flat and snapped my feminine undergarment.

Pulling down underwear to count public hairs in a classroom? We changed into gym clothing in a locker room people mostly had the good sense to not look at each other. I thought it aggregious when an immature and awkward girl in the locker room commented on the color of my underwear and let her have it.

Later I was in a school that was much rougher. Still nothing like the stories I'm heard and reading.

And busses were never scarry places. The bus drivers were tough! I do remember one female driver throwing off a rowdy boy in the 5th grade, which shaped him up real quick. The biggest threat was to turn off the radio and/or stop the bus. In middle school, 6th graders were only allowed to sit in the front of the bus until later in the year. I imagine that was to control some issues with the underdogs. There is another thread at imamother talking about the physical injuries on busses and the need for monitors. Somehow we managed to put kids 3 to a seat (uncomfortable as could be!) --a bit less than 90 kids on the bus-- and no one ever got more than a few bruises when you fell out of the outside seat. Bus monitors? NOT ONE.

I do realize that bullying is at all time highs in general society, and I don't care to glorify the "good old days" because we had plenty of social problems from drug use to unwed teenage pregnancy. But our administrators and teachers did not lack character. There were top state athletes who were dismmised for the season because of off-campus drinking and partying, detrimental to those who were being scouted by colleges and detrimental to a school that won many state championships. There were popular kids who were sent home from school dances because they showed up with alcohol on their breathe. There were kids who were expelled and sent to alternative schools. There were kids who were handcuffed on campus for drugs and driving violations (in one case a parent handcuffed his own son).

Parents, I don't know what to say. But if your administration is unwilling to do the right thing because of money concerns or relations or because they want to save the reputation of the school, than the chinuch is faulty and it is time to make it known that as parents you won't sit back and watch this without consequence.

Lion of Zion said...

"And busses were never scarry places."

would anyone like to share the details of the halb butter knife incident last year?

Charlie Hall said...

I'd send my kids to public schools rather than make them go through this kind of stuff -- which will continue as long as we pretend that we don't have options.

Anonymous said...

I hate to break it to you but this stuff happens at public schools too. While I was never actually beaten, I was teased and tormented constantly at public school in a "good district" from second grade all the way through middle school. I would have my things taken, rumors spread about me, and someone even attempted to poison my food.

Things were actually much better for me after I switched to a frum school.

I am only 25, so this wasn't all that long ago.

Anonymous said...

Middle school is rough emotionally everywhere, but physical safety should not be negotiable.

Miami Al said...

I got into fights constantly in middle school. Originally as a the victim, later starting. Physical slugfests.

Administration used suspensions, internal suspensions, whatever they could to control things. However, when I went to a private high school, there was NO fighting in the middle or high school.

Why? Expulsions are taken seriously when your parents are shelling out big bucks for you to be there.

Orthonomics said...

Of course things happen in public school. The question is, how does the administration deal with them? Obviously the parents in these storeis are dealing with administrations that enable. My public school administration did not enable. I don't believe most frum school administrations would enable. Parents who have their kids in schools that enable shouldn't worry about shidduchim, high school adminission, or whatever else. Get your kids out of there. I'd say if you kid is in a public school with an administration that allows such, the same thing. Get them out of there.

ProfK said...

Thankfully this mother finally had the gumption to pull her child out of the school. But she's not finished with what she needs to do. I agree with those who commented that the HAS to out the school that did this to her son. Why? Because I sincerely doubt this was an isolated, one-time event. It probably happened before her son and it most likely will happen to someone else as well. And if she doesn't make public that the school allows this then she is as guilty as the boys will be if it happens again.

I've commented before that schools are forceably trying to take over the parents' jobs and responsibilities, trying to make parents less important in the scheme of things. And this is the result? More than time to foment a grass roots rebellion and take back the parenting reins from the schools. They clearly aren't up to the job.

Anon1 said...

When something goes wrong in an organization they should be overseeing, the management and staff often try to shift the blame to the victims. The problem can be abusive behavior, poor educational methods, poor quality in a commercial product or service, etc. Those mistreated in this way should act as a group instead of as isolated individuals. The derelict authorities would rather keep them isolated, passive, and powerless.

Ahavah Gayle said...

I agree with above posters - this child was sexually assaulted by a group of junior perverts and they didn't learn this behavior in a vacuum. The school should be outed and both the perpetrators and the administrators should have complaints filed against them with the police. The child will be much more stable emotionally in the years to come (and therapy is another good idea) knowing that his parents stood up for him.

Ariella said...

Wow, it makes yeshiva sound like the nightmare that British public school was in Tom Brown's School Days. At least there, the headmaster finally threw out the head bully. The sad thing is the menahel's view and those of parents who would leave their child in such a situation because "everyone" does the same.

Avivah @ Oceans of Joy said...

As a long term homeschooler, I've heard from many parents about various problematic school issues, including bullying. This school was far from unique. I'd bet that every boys middle/high school in my city (and probably most others) has similar things going on. This will stop when parents put their foot down and won't tolerate it any more. But regardless of what the school does or doesn't do, the parent must be there to protect his/her child.

Recently I was speaking with a mother of a 13 year old boy undergoing something like this. I told her it sounded abusive (coming home with bruises, the 'gay' comments, lots of group mocking) and asked her why he was still there. The answer? 'He needs to learn to stick up for himself and can't run away.'

At times like this I feel like an overprotective mother by today's standards, even though generally I'm more demanding of my kids than most parents. Let my kid be used as a punching bag to teach him not to run away? No way. There are better ways to teach him to persevere in the face of difficulty than keeping him in a situation that will leave long term scars.

Miami Al said...

Avivah, also, why does one need to learn to "stick up for oneself" in a clearly weighted environment (group of bullies targeting a perceived "weak" members).

Nowhere ELSE in the civilized world does this type of scenario exist. Society has rules and regulations, and those that break them routinely get dealt with.

Only in a Lord of the Flies middle school environment does this anti social behavior become the norm, and it is up to the administration to control it.

Puberty is a violent time for boys, and a nasty time for girls, and abdicating responsibility for enforcing order to the children themselves is utterly insane!

It's bad if the inmates run the asylum.

It's horrific if the warden thinks that that is reasonable.

tdr said...

I would say the only way a kid will develop the guts (confidence) to stand up for himself and "not run away" is if he is raised in a safe, nurturing, and close family environment. I would think that throwing a kid to the wolves will usually end up with the opposite result from what was intended.

There are simply not enough opporunities to mention Dr. Gordon Neufeld's work (as someone alraedy did). If you haven't done so, check out his flagship book. It puts this whole discussion in a new light. I don't recall the name of it at the moment...

Not your typical "parenting" book.

Have a good Shabbos.


Avivah @ Oceans of Joy said...

Miami Al, I couldn't agree more about your comments about the inmates and warden.

tdr, being raised in a safe and nurturing won't preempt being bullied, just makes them less of a target. Even kids from a nurturing home can be socially awkward and that is one thing that bullies target.

(Another vote here for Gordon Neufeld's book - it' my favorite parenting related book.)

Orthonomics said...

These posts mention the Neufeld book:

I highly recommend it.

For a book review, see MominIsrael:

The link changed since I referenced her review. I think it is worthwhile reading, although the reading gets a bit tough in places. There is certainly a lot to hang your hat on in terms of attachments.

Miami Al said...

Thanks for the book recomendation, on order from I'll have some night reading material next Shabbat.

Shabbat Shalom everyone.

heatheramyprice said...

hi SephardiLady! (and your Jewish blogging readers....)

Anyone want to play in a Jewish blog hop?

If so, see the latest post at

Shavuah tov and have a great week!

Anonymous said...

I feel so sorry for what your son experienced & what your family is going through. I agree w/those above who commented that you should advise the other parents. If the tables were turned, wouldn't you want to be informed? In any event, there is strength in numbers. One parent is considered crazy, & no change would take place. However, a group can affect a change. I know it would be tough on you, and even worse for you son, but this could potentially have your son feel vindicated. It's always hard to stand up to evil. As I've always told my own kids, the reason for that is that the 'crook' is better & more experienced at his craft than we ever could be at fighting it

Anonymous said...

This is a very late posting as I just discovered this blog and have been reading the whole thing in one sitting!

I am now 31. I remember when I was in college I had a boyfriend who had studied at Ner Yisrael yeshiva in the early 90's. He was fairly young for his grade and quite small then, as well. He told me about some horrible things that happened to him, as a 13 year old boy, at the hands of a 16/17 year old yeshiva student. He was molested by this student several times. He eventually got the courage to tell someone at the yeshiva what was happening and their response was: 1) Told him not to tell his parents as they would "think he was disgusting", 2) Brought him a Ner Yisrael student who was studying psychology in night school to act as his psychologist.

10 years after he was molested he was still traumatized by what had happened (and rightfully so). I was appalled to hear how the Yeshiva had handled his situation, and the message it sent to him and all the other students.

And I'm so sad to see that things haven't changed.

Orthonomics said...

Welcome anonymous. Another horrifying story. How terribly sad and outrageous. Even prison inmates know where molesters fall on the totem pole.