Protecting our Children

August 16, 2011 by J-Wire
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The Jewish Community Council of Victoria has conducted a parent forum on the need to raise awareness within our community of sexual abuse of children.

John Searle

JCCV President John Searle said: “there is no group of people more precious, more loved, more vulnerable and therefore more in need of protection than our children. Therefore we needed this forum to raise community awareness about the prevalence of child sexual abuse and look at how parents may prevent abuse happening to their children’.

A panel of experts addressed the emerging research and how ‘stranger danger’ is not the issue for our children. The panel included Sheiny New – Jewish Taskforce Against Family Violence, Mary Mass – South Eastern Centre Against Sexual Assault (SECASA) and Vivien Resofsky – social worker.

The panel, chaired by Searle, reported that the incidence of child sexual abuse in our community is on par with other communities and incidents are on the rise. Facts from the SECASA website show that in the overwhelming majority of instances, the perpetrator is someone known to the victim and commonly from their immediate family such as the father, stepfather, mother’s de facto partner, brother, uncle or grandfather of the Victim.

Sheiny New stated that it is critical that children understand that no one is allowed to tell them to keep a secret from their parents. As many children self-blame or have been threatened by the perpetrator, Sheiny said: “look into your child’s eyes and let them know that no matter what they do or what is done to them, Mummy and Daddy will always love them.” Unfortunately, the perpetrator may be a parent, therefore school programs facilitated by the JTAFV encourage children to speak to a trusted adult until they are believed and action is taken.

Mary Mass said that SECASA receives 30-50 new referrals a week for counselling for both recent and past sexual assault. Mary stated that belief is critical: “You must believe what you children tell you and help them develop the language around personal safety. If your child is uncomfortable with an adult, then do not force them to go with that adult. Believe your child, look for warning signs and speak with professionals who can help to make you make sure your child is safe”.

Vivien Resofky concluded by saying that parents must talk about it, schools must talk about it and referred parents to Wesley’s World series of books, a parent/child guide to personal safety that she has authored.


Help and information can be found at:


One Response to “Protecting our Children”
  1. Lynne Newington says:

    On a par with other communities?
    I don’t think so, with no Canon Law limitations or the fear of speaking up that has been so prevelant you can never be on a par with other, well one community I’m aware of.
    It is only in recent times the Police have been able to break through, after decades of covering up by those in high places.

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