“I have a special prayer ‘O Lord, open my lips’”: Experiences of ultra-Orthodox educators after their students' disclosures of sexual abuse

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Abstract

Background: Child sexual abuse (CSA) is a large-scale, worldwide phenomenon. However, research on educators' experiences with CSA in specific social, cultural or religious contexts is limited. Objective: The current study is part of a larger qualitative research project examining Israeli educators' coping with CSA of their students in diverse cultural contexts. This study focused on Jewish ultra-Orthodox educators' perceptions and experiences of CSA disclosure and its impact on their professional and personal lives. Their perceptions of belonging to the ultra-Orthodox community were also explored. Methods: Interviews were conducted with 28 ultra-Orthodox educators and analyzed using a thematic approach. Results: The ultra-Orthodox educators perceived their roles on a continuum, from not being responsible to being fully responsible. They perceived the abused children as having negative behavior or as victims who deserved protection. Their personal lives were deeply affected, impacted by fear, disassociation or devotion to the mission of caring for these children. Finally, educators perceived the ultra-Orthodox community as fragile regarding CSA disclosure and emphasized the importance of encouraging culturally adaptive ways to conceptualize and address CSA. Conclusions: This study highlights the importance of ultra-Orthodox educators in identifying CSA and leading interventions. It also raises the need for training to combine reflective, cultural-based practice and support for the educator to maintain their wellbeing. Despite this community's uniqueness, the current findings may be relevant to professionals and policymakers regarding other closed and religious communities and diverse educational settings confronting CSA.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number106449
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Volume146
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Elsevier Ltd

Keywords

  • CSA disclosure
  • Child sexual abuse (CSA)
  • Closed communities
  • Educator coping
  • Ultra-orthodox educators' experiences

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