Prevention: How to eliminate the risks of abuse happening

There is far from enough talk about fighting abuse. A blog here and there cannot be construed as a movement, which is what our community really needs: a “Movement” to expose molesters and help victims get help. There needs to be more talk about this.
But what about prevention? We need another “Movement” to teach parents how to make their kids less vulnerable to abuse.
         (There is an organization dedicated to prevention, called Jewish Parents for Safe Yeshivas - click to see their Facebook page. They are currently organizing workshops for parents on how to educate and protect your children.)
          We need to ask ourselves the most difficult question of all: why are our children so vulnerable to being molested? Why do molesters know that they can find prey wherever they turn in our community?
          Maybe it’s because we shelter our children too much, so they don’t even know that there is anything wrong with somebody touching their private spots. If children would understand more about sexuality, they would know that the molester is using them for his gratification, and they would therefore be in a position to protest.
          But the real issue is not excessive sheltering: it is that we teach our children that they do not have to respect their own feelings. When an adult makes a child uncomfortable, how does the child react? That is the key to the way victims react to molesters. The child thinks back to his primary adult relationships: his parents. What do his parents expect when they make him uncomfortable? If they expect him to keep quiet because of the commandment of “kibbud av va’em,” (honoring parents) they are teaching him to take abuse from adults because he should respect them.
          Do you expect your child to hide his feelings of anger when you hurt him? Do you compound your punishment when he reacts angrily to your first punishment? If so, you are teaching your child that he must respect the wishes of his elders no matter what he feels. Unfortunately, some of your child’s elders may try to molest him, and when that happens, your child will think that he has to comply in order to be a “good boy.”
          Aside from letting your child have his feelings without condemning him for them, you also have to keep up a generally open relationship with your child. This way, he will come to you when someone threatens him. “Open relationship” means that your child has to feel free to tell you the most disturbing things possible. If you teach your child to hide disturbing information so as not to hurt you, his parents, then your child is at risk of being repeatedly abused, many times over. How do you react when your child tells you he was “bad?” When he says that he did not do his homework the night before? If you get angry at him, you cannot expect him to feel free to tell you if he is being abused.           Molesters tend to make the child think that he was the one responsible for the deed, not the abuser.
          Moreover, children tend to blame themselves for whatever bad happens to them. You must make your children feel comfortable enough to tell you when they were bad, and that means teaching them consistently that you are a safe person to tell anything and everything. If that  means waiving punishment when your child admits to wrongdoing, then that is what you must do. If it means punishing him in  a friendly and mild way instead of a harsh way, you must do that. It is your responsibility to build the right relationship with your child so that he can tell you everything.
          Of course, you must also educate your children about their bodies. Rabbi Yaakov Horowitz gives very specific advice on how to go about it in accordance with halacha.

By preventing these tragedies from occurring, we will not have to fight them when they occur. Amen.
P.S. To read more about this view of parenting from an experienced frum therapist, see Dr. Benzion Sorotzkin is one of the most highly recommended frum therapists, who is in close contact with Poskim.