The Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington is responding to what it considers a potential for sexual abuse in community facilities that cater to children.
“About 400,000 children under age 18 will be sexually abused this year – one in seven girls and one in 25 boys,” according to Michael Feinstein, CEO of the Rockville-based JCC. “That represents 10 percent of children under age 18.”
Feinstein said he and other JCC executives first heard those statistics at a meeting on how to make JCCs safer. “We had no idea of the magnitude of the problem,” he wrote to members in the agency’s bulletin.
Later this year, three staff members from the JCCGW and the Jewish Coalition Against Domestic Abuse (JCADA) will receive training on how to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse,” Feinstein wrote.
They in turn will train others. Community sessions will begin in 2015.
“Our goal isn’t to just prevent this at the JCC. It’s about educating our community, to create an environment where this can’t happen,” he said. “Our goal will be to do training at other JCCs, at synagogues and at day schools. They are the institutions where there are kids.”
The training will be funded with a one-year $7,500 grant from the Tikkun Olam Women’s Foundation of the United Jewish Endowment Fund. Training will be conducted by Darkness to Light, a national nonprofit whose goal is to end child sexual abuse.
While there have been incidents of child sexual abuse at JCCs nationally, there have been none at the JCCGW, Feinstein said.
But, he wrote, “we are obligated to be proactive in protecting others. So now is the perfect time to do more to protect our children both at the Center and in the community at large.”