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Jewish Provisions for Protecting Children: Modern Rabbis Advocate Non-Violence

NCJ Number
Child Abuse and Neglect Volume: 38 Issue: 4 Dated: April 2014 Pages: 567-575
Elliot N. Dorff
Date Published
April 2014
9 pages
One of six articles in this issue on the role of religion in fostering the protection and welfare of children, this article focuses on Judaism's traditions and practices toward children.
Judaism is based in values and duties to care for others, including children. These general traditions hold that each person is created in the image of God, is unique and valuable, and must be cared for when in need. There are also sanctions for those who harm others. Overall, Jewish tradition views children as a gift from God to be cherished and guided to fulfill God's purpose for the child. Judaism specifies concepts and duties related specifically to the protection and care of children. Along with the widow and the poor, the "orphan" is included as requiring special care by the community. Also, Jewish tradition requires that parents support and educate their children, not only in the principles of Judaism but also in skills to earn a living. Jewish tradition also emphasizes that parents not make unreasonable demands on their children or punishment them in such a way as to foster rebellion. The article discusses the revision over time in the Torah's text that mandates the death penalty for children who habitually disobey their parents and violate Jewish law. The interpretation of Jewish law under Conservative Judaism prohibits a parent's use of corporal punishment to the point of abuse, i.e., where the child is seriously harmed or where the punishment is clearly excessive as a response to the child's misconduct. In order to foster appropriate parental understanding and disciplining of children, synagogues routinely provide programs that teach parents about child development and age-appropriate discipline. In many communities, Jewish Family Service provides resources and guidance for families who need help in raising their children. 4 references