Orthodox petition urging people to report child abuse reopens for more signatures

A kol koreh (declaration) to prevent child abuse not being reported was originally opened in 2015.

 Chaim Walder (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Chaim Walder
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

A kol koreh (declaration) that was originally opened in 2015 to prevent abused children from having their situation be ignored within the orthodox community was reopened for a limited time to allow for more people to sign it.

When it first opened in 2015, it was signed by over 100 rabbis around the world.

The declaration states that "any individual with firsthand knowledge or reasonable basis to suspect child abuse has the religious obligation to promptly notify the secular law enforcement of that information."

New signatories of the kol koreh include Aish HaTorah, the UK Federation of Synagogues, dayanim (religious court judges) and leaders of orthodox communities around the world, including Monsey, New York.

“It is imperative that a survivor of child sexual abuse report directly to the police," said psychologist Dr. Michael Salamon. "Special victims officers are the only people trained to do a proper investigation and legally document the perpetrators' actions and are sensitive to the needs of the survivors and their community. Not reporting to these authorities but consulting with others delays and confounds an investigation," he said.

Australian sisters Elly Sapper, Dassi Erlich and Nicole Meyer, sexually abused by former headteacher Malka Leifer. (Pictured: In Jerusalem District Court, 2019). (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)Australian sisters Elly Sapper, Dassi Erlich and Nicole Meyer, sexually abused by former headteacher Malka Leifer. (Pictured: In Jerusalem District Court, 2019). (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

"I have been involved in many situations where children told about their abuse to community leaders but not the police. They were told to 'forget what happened,' 'stay away from that bad person,' and even worse 'I don’t believe you,'" Salamon said. "Not only is this extremely destructive to the survivors but it allows abusers to continue their horrific behaviors."

In November, the author of the children's book Kids Speak Chaim Walder was accused of raping multiple women and girls. The alleged abuse was able to continue for many years because it wasn't properly dealt with at the time.