Educating one’s children against predators, pedophiles, and molesters-Part 1

Educating one’s children against predators, pedophiles, and molesters:

Unfortunately, a known and growing epidemic, which has seen greater light in the recent years, is the plague of pedophilia, of which almost no Jewish community has come unscathed. One of the basic principles of Torah Judaism is Kedusha, keeping a holy environment of sexual morality. The Torah is well aware of the challenges people have in containing sexual lusts and hence provided a number of guidelines which are meant to prevent one from falling prey to his instincts and desires, or for that matter, to falling prey to the sexual gratification of another individual.[1] Accordingly, it is the responsibility of every parent and educator to educate his children or students in a clean and Kosher way of the very real dangers of predators and the guidelines they are to keep and matters to beware from, so they do not fall prey to such an individual, and so they stop it before it progresses.[2] Aside for the religious responsibility to prevent sinful activity and moral depravity from occurring, educating one’s children in the above is included in the basic responsibilities a parent has in keeping their child safe from physical dangers. Just as a parent must teach his child how to cross the street, and a school must rehearse fire drills, so too, children must be educated in the above for their own physical safety, aside for the religious reasons of morality. The enormous damage that child molestation can potentially cause the innocent soul of a child is indescribable, and the statistics of the potential affects speak for themselves without needing to give this matter any further proof.[3] Accordingly, educating one’s children to beware from predators is a Halachic responsibility both due to reasons of morality and safety. The reason for why educating children in this matter is, and has been, avoided is because it is viewed as a taboo subject that is more comfortable to ignore than to discuss, and due to the desire to keep children sheltered from knowledge of such depravities. Unfortunately, the spread of this epidemic and the spiritual and physical destruction that it has caused, and continues to cause, the innocent children who fall victim, do not allow us to remain silent any longer. By lifting the level of awareness to our children regarding this matter, we both stop our own children from falling prey to a predator, as well as put a deterrent against a predator attempting to lure victims. In the following paragraphs we will analyze a Halachic discussion regarding the need to beware from people due to worry of homophile behavior, thus lending the Halachic basis for the above said obligation of education:       

May a man have Yichud with another man?[4]

The Jewish people were not suspected of homophile relations [i.e. Mishkav Zachar], and therefore there is no prohibition [for a man or child] to be in a state of Yichud with another man. [This is in contrast to gentiles, who are suspected of homophile relations, and one is hence prohibited from sending his child to learn under a gentile teacher.[5]] Nonetheless, a man who distances himself from having Yichud even with another Jewish man [including male relatives[6]], is praised. [The above was relevant in previous times, however] in these later generations in which the number of [Jewish] individuals who are sexual deviants have increased, a man is [obligated[7]] to distance himself from having Yichud [even] with a [Jewish] male.[8] [Some Poskim[9], however, rule that this only applies in countries where homophile relations are common, while in countries in which this is an unaccepted and rare occurrence, there is no need even today for a man to distance himself from Yichud with another man, although it remains an act of piety to do so.]

From this Halacha we can derive two points vis a vis the proper attitude towards educating our children to beware from predators, pedophiles, and molesters:

  1. One must not only distance himself from situations which ignite him to act on his own lusts, but one must also distance himself from falling prey to the lust of another individual. Accordingly, children must be educated so they do not fall victim.
  2. The distances required are all dependent on the level of morality in one’s society. Thus, in a depraved society in which a certain immoral behavior has become abundant, one must distance himself in increased measures from this behavior, even though this distance was not necessary in previous generations. Accordingly, the level of pedophilia rampant today obligates one to take increased measures to make sure his children do not fall victim.


Matters to beware and educate children in:

Coming up in Part 2!


[1] See Shulchan Aruch Even Haezer chapters 21-24

[2] See Rambam Issurei Biyah 22:5 [brought in A]

[3] Effects of child sexual abuse include shame and self-blame, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, self-esteem issues, sexual dysfunction, chronic pelvic pain, addiction, self-injury, suicidal ideation, borderline personality disorder, and propensity to re-victimization in adulthood. Child sexual abuse is a risk factor for attempting suicide. Much of the harm caused to victims becomes apparent years after the abuse happens. [See for scholarly articles on the subject]

[4] Michaber E.H. 24:1; Tur 24:1; Rosh 4:24; Rambam Issurei Biyah 22:2; Chachamim in Kiddushin 82a

[5] Implication of Michaber ibid; Beis Yosef E.H 24; Tur 24 “The nations are suspected on everything and hence one may not give them a child to be taught by them, even a male to a male”; Rambam Issurei Biyah 22:5; Avoda Zara 15b and 36b; Shabbos 17b; However, see Rama Y.D. 153:2 and Tur 153 that the reason is due to that the gentile will teach the child heresy. See Rashi Avoda Zara 15b who mentions both reasons; See Derisha E.H. 24:1, Vetzaruch Iyun!

[6] Tur 24 “Even with one’s father”; See Bach 24 who states the novelty here is that even though the person is a Jewish male and one’s father, nevertheless it is praiseworthy to distance oneself from Yichud. The Bach, however, concludes that he is unsure of the source of the Tur’s ruling; This ruling of the Tur is omitted in Michaber ibid

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule that it is not necessary to distance oneself from Yichud with his father and the above statement in the Tur is a misprint. [Yad Ahron 1 24:1; Implication of Michaber ibid]

[7] Implication of Michaber ibid and Bach 24, as brought in Chelkas Mechokeik and Beis Shmuel 24:1

[8] Michaber ibid

[9] Bach E.H. 24, as brought in Chelkas Mechokeik and Beis Shmuel 24:1

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