Institute for University-School Partnership’s Sept. 15 Forum will Bring Child Abuse Research to Practice

Sep 7, 2010 — Through a new and comprehensive program at Yeshiva University established to understand and address school policies and procedures in the detection and reporting of child abuse, the findings of a groundbreaking survey of Jewish day and high schools from across North America will be presented at a forum at the University’s Wilf Campus on Wednesday evening, Sept. 15. Jewish day and high school administrators, teachers, rabbis and mental health professionals will dialogue and discuss strengths, needs and practical strategies for schools to support child safety at the program, beginning at 7:30 p.m. in Weissberg Commons, 2495 Amsterdam Ave. (at 184 St.) in the Washington Heights section of New York City.

The program is sponsored by the Institute for University-School Partnership, a division of YU’s Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration, and serves to formally launch the Institute’s Project CARE (Comprehensive Abuse Response Education). CARE utilizes a multifaceted approach to improve systems in schools, including research and training on protocols related to child sexual, physical and psychological abuse.

As part of this approach, CARE conducted a survey in May among Jewish day and high schools across the denominational spectrum, with 135 schools responding. In addition, four schools are participating in a pilot program during this academic year with intensive training for faculty, administrators, staff and parents in order to build their capacity to deal with these issues and be a source of further knowledge dissemination for the day school field.

“This is an important program at this moment in time for the Jewish community,” said Dr. Scott Goldberg, the Institute’s director. “Many have worked to not only bring these issues to the fore but also to directly address them. We are dedicated to building on their successes and learning from their work as we further address these issues systematically and comprehensively in partnership with schools.”

A hallmark of all Institute programs is to bridge the research of the University and the practical needs of schools by drawing on the expertise and resources of YU and developing approaches together with school personnel.

To this end, presenters at the Sept. 15 forum will include Dr. David Pelcovitz, the Gwendolyn and Joseph Straus Professor of Psychology and Jewish Education at Azrieli and co-author of the forthcoming book Breaking the Silence: Sexual Abuse in the Jewish Community; Rabbi Yona Reiss, The Max and Marion Grill Dean of YU’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary; Dr. Yitzchak Schechter, who is leading the CARE program and is director of the Center for Applied Psychology at the Bikur Cholim in Rockland County; and Dr. Goldberg.

The forum will focus on the rabbinic and halachic perspectives and implications; next steps to increasing awareness and safety in schools and the community, including the initiatives already being undertaken through CARE; and the results of the groundbreaking study of Jewish day schools across North America on abuse, policies and practices.

“We now have carefully conducted research on how schools in the Jewish community are thinking about and addressing issues of abuse,” Dr. Schechter said.

“The remarkable response to our survey from a diverse array of schools has provided us with a road map for the educational, clinical and policy work ahead,” added Dr. Goldberg.

The Sept. 15 event at Yeshiva University will also be Webcast live at www.yu.edu/schoolpartnership/care.

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