Students, faculty and staff at Torah Day School of Atlanta will participate Jan. 8 and 9 in the Safety Kid Program, a child abuse prevention program created and facilitated by Magen Yeladim Child Safety Institute in Los Angeles.
Parents and educators from across metro Atlanta are invited to hear Magen Yeladim’s director and founder, Debbie Fox, speak at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 8, at Congregation Beth Jacob.
Fox, a licensed clinical social worker, will speak on the topic “Protecting our Children.” The presentation will include child safety tips for the home, public places and camp, as well as baby-sitting tips.
Malka Landman, the resource learning director at TDSA, and her family are helping to sponsor the program, along with Beth Jacob and Young Israel of Toco Hills, in memory of Landman’s mother-in-law, Gila Landman.
“Child safety was of tremendous importance to her,” Landman said. “She would give of her time and energy in every possible way to help children, so we thought this was a wonderful way to honor her memory.”
The program is designed to meet the needs of Jewish students.
“We’ve never had a program like this in the Atlanta area,” Landman said. “We wanted to help bring this to parents and anyone who has anything to do with children.”
Such programs will help keep children safe from abuse, she said. “Education and awareness is protection.”
With reports of sexual abuse making headlines daily, it is a topic on the minds of many. According to statistics from the World Health Organization, one in five women and one in 13 men report having been sexually abused as children. Atlanta is a hub for child sex trafficking.
Batsheva Gelbtuch, a Torah Day School parent, former school guidance counselor and licensed clinical social worker, was part of the initial planning committee of past and present TDSA parents. She emphasized the importance of this program.
“The only way to stop this epidemic is to educate and empower students and parents,” Gelbtuch said.
No demographic is immune to the problem of abuse.
“It’s not any different in any community,” Gelbtuch said. “Humans are humans.”
And education is the key to protecting children.
“We can save people’s lives, literally,” Gelbtuch said, pointing out that victims’ lives are affected in so many ways — physically, emotionally and psychologically. “We can really prevent so much hurt for so many people.”
Rebekah Silverman, the school nurse at TDSA, said this training is like many types of safety education schools give children, such as fire safety and bicycle safety.
“It needs to be discussed but also followed up and reviewed on a regular basis,” she said.
Silverman acknowledged that sexual abuse is a topic much more difficult than bicycle helmets for educators and parents to discuss with children.
“That’s another reason why we are so excited about this program,” she said. “It’s practical and honest but still calm and reassuring.”
Silverman said the program uses a pneumonic device to help children, parents and educators remember how to create safe environments: A, ask for help; B, bring a friend; C, check before; D, do tell; E, explore the Internet safely.
“It’s not just how to anticipate danger, but also how to take proactive precautions,” Silverman said. “It takes a whole community to foster a safe environment for our children.”
For that reason, Landman hopes parents will join the workshop Jan. 8.
“We are opening up to the community at large in order to share this incredibly valuable service with more people, so that we can help provide awareness and education and help more children,” she said. “There is nothing more important than the safety of our children. … I can’t imagine anything more important than this.”
What: Safety Kid Program
Who: Debbie Fox, Magen Yeladim director
Where: Congregation Beth Jacob’s Heritage Hall, 1855 LaVista Road, Toco Hills
When: 7:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 8
Cost: Free; RSVPs requested to RSVP@torahday.org