Protecting our kids

Lisa Belleli, a trainer with Tzedek’s education team, explains the Project J-Safe program.

TZEDEK, the Jewish community organisation dedicated to protecting children from sexual abuse, is holding a fundraiser to support its Project J-Safe program.

The “Charidy” 10-hour fundraiser starts at noon on September 12, and aims to help Tzedek towards its 2018 goals of reaching 1000 Jewish children, 300 parents, 100 teachers, 10 synagogues and 300 youth leaders.

Project J-Safe: Tots to Teens, a preventive program, has been running in Jewish schools, shules, youth movements, and throughout the community for two years.

Tzedek CEO Dr Michelle Meyer told The AJN a pilot stage has been successfully conducted at Mount Scopus Memorial College and The King David School in Melbourne and at Mount Sinai College in Sydney, with planned rollouts to other schools.

She described J-Safe, which is based on proven programs, as “culture specific” and designed around Jewish activities.

With the schools version of the program, “we train across the schools, all parts of the school, before we start educating children”, explained Meyer.

“We run a program for the senior management, for teachers and for parents, before we start educating the children. That’s based on the understanding that children need a network around them for this program in case they disclose, so that the adults who are there to support them know how to manage a disclosure,” she said.

Yavneh Early Learning Centre head Charlene Orwin said, “A difficult subject was handled professionally, informatively and sensitively. Both our staff and parent body were able to take away a deeper understanding, as well as strategies to approach these issues appropriately.”

An evaluation of Project J-Safe for schools was conducted by Dr Sarah Epstein, a researcher at Deakin University’s Faculty of Health.

A program participant told evaluators it “builds teachers’ knowledge and supports teachers’ skill development in the areas of incidence, behavioural indicators and responding to disclosure”.

A teacher interviewed for the evaluation said: “I think it certainly has had an impact I can see across the teaching staff, because teachers will now come and ask me questions about things, and raise concerns more than they have in the past.”

To support Tzedek’s ‘Charidy’ Fundraiser, go to¬†https://www.unidy.org/tzedek.

PETER KOHN