Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Child Molestation - David Mandel and Ohel Children's Home and Family Services

Child Molestation - David Mandel and Ohel Children's Home and Family Services
 © (2007) by Vicki Polin

David Mandel, CEO - Ohel
Today a friend dropped off a copy of David Mandel's article "Child Molestation in the Jewish community - Overblown or Understated?", which was published in the Jewish Journal. 

I haven't had a chance to read the entire article, yet I glanced at the first paragraph and found several errors (see below). David Mandel is the CEO of Ohel, which is an ultra-orthodox, mental health center in New York City.

I'm sure Mr. Mandel's goal is to make a difference in hopes of protecting our children. The problem is that his expertise is not in child molestation. It's obvious that Mandel and those at Ohel are lacking the specialized training and education in the field of sexual victimization and working with offenders.

David Mandel is correct "we need a more open dialogue on the issue of child molestation", that the majority of cases do not involve strangers and that as a people we need to remove the shame, blame and stigma associated with sexual victimization from those who have been violated and place it on the offender(s) and those who cover up these criminal offenses. The goal is not only to teach prevention, yet also to help those who have already been victimized.

It is also vitally important for all parents, schools and youth groups to teach children about "good touch, bad touch." The reason why I also say schools and youth groups is due to the fact that majority of cases of child molestation occurs in the home.

46 percent of cases of child molestation are committed in the home -- most often by a parent, stepparent and or sibling. One cannot expect a parent who molests to teach their own child about prevention.

When one suspects a child is at risk of being abused or neglected we are all mandated reporters. This does not mean reporting our fears to our rabbonim. It means picking up the telephone and calling the secular authorities (child protection services) in your community. The responsibility of investigating suspicions is that of the professional agency. They have the education and training. It's important to remember their goal is not to break up families or remove children from the home. The goal is to offer services to families in need and most importantly to help children to grow up in safe, healthy environments.

David Mandel also made a mistake by stating that "Perpetrators (sex offenders) may be less likely to offend children, knowing their community will not tolerate their behavior."

The problem is that as of now there is no known treatment that works for sex offenders. Many look at sex offenders as being mentally ill, unable to control their criminal behavior. They are a time bomb waiting to go off. It's sad and scary to say that we need to look at sex offender's as having an incurable disease. Only 16.3 percent of known sex offenders will end up in prison. We also have to remember the fact that 61 percent of sex crimes are never reported to law enforcement. Meaning, the majority of those who sexually victimized children are unknown. Their names are kept secret by those who are or have been victimized.

We all have to know that times that a sex offender's disease may go Into remission, yet according to the US Dept. of Justice, over a 25 year period 52% of convicted sex offenders will re-offend. A typical child sex offender molests an average of 117 children (National Institute of Mental Health)

Given this information and the article that was written, I want to suggest that everyone call Mr. David Mandel. Let him know of the errors I pointed out, suggest to him that he and his entire clinical staff go through The Awareness Center's certification program. Our goal is not to attack, our goal is to educate. To make sure all care providers have the basic information that they are lacking and also learn how to work with survivors, family members and offenders. I think it's time we all work together to end sex crimes in Jewish communities.

Contact Information:
David Mandel
E-mail: DM@ohelfamily.org
Phone: 718-851-6300
David Mandel states:
"A more open dialogue on the issue of child molestation is key to prevention. It is not "stranger danger", child molestation most commonly is perpetrated by a person known to the child. By having a dialogue with your children on personal safety, we can help prevent the victimization of children. By removing the shame and stigma associated with victimization, children, adolescents and adults will not be as fearful to report incidents of molestation and to seek support. Perpetrators may be less likely to offend children, knowing their community will not tolerate their behavior."

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