Abuse Prevention

Abuse Prevention 

JCFS Chicago offers culturally sensitive education and training to increase awareness, prevent and respond to abuse in Jewish homes and communal institutions.

Partnership for Safer Communities 
Safer Communities promotes interpersonal safety, health and well-being in synagogues, Jewish day schools, Jewish day and overnight camps and other Jewish institutions through education, training, and policy review.

Safer Synagogues engages congregational leadership – clergy, professional and lay – leaders in learning about the impact of abuse across the lifespan, mental health, addiction & recovery. Congregational staff are provided with professional training and facilitated discussion sessions which increase their capacity to respond to the needs in their community. Safer Synagogues has been facilitated in 35 Chicagoland synagogues since its inception.

  • Objectives and Benefits
    • Clergy and staff and other leaders gain a heightened understanding of their roles and responsibilities – including legal obligations – to intervene when congregants are experiencing abuse, mental illness, and addiction.
    • Congregants become more aware of community resources and feel more comfortable turning to the rabbi and other synagogue leaders for support and guidance.
    • Synagogues are guided in review and development of individualized programs, policies, protocols and best practices.

Safer Schools engages Jewish day school administrators, teachers, staff, parents, and students in education and training about healthy relationships, handling accusations or disclosures of abuse or neglect, and corresponding legal responsibilities. Over 1,000 students annually attend this program

  • Topics Addressed 
      • Keeping Children Safe 
      • Teen Relationships and Teen Dating Violence 
      • Adult Intimate Partnerships and Domestic Violence 
      • Abuse and Neglect of Older Adults 
      • Substance Use, Misuse and Addiction 
      • Mental Health, Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention
    • Objectives and Benefits
      • School personnel have a heightened understanding of their roles and responsibilities – including legal obligations – to safeguard students' overall well-being.
      • Parents learn about child safety and how to be proactive in safeguarding their children. 
      • Students learn how to keep themselves safe.
      • Schools are guided in the review and development of individualized policies and procedures for protecting students, their families and school staff.

    Student education: We are currently rolling out a brand-new abuse prevention curriculum for students in preschool through fourth grade. Taking what we’ve learned from over 10 years of educating children, our new S.M.A.R.T. Kids curriculum teaches kids important safety information through videos and interactive discussions. This spring we’re thrilled to be sharing this curriculum with nearly 1700 students in Orthodox Jewish day schools in the Chicago area. We look forward to expanding our reach to other schools in the coming years.

    To schedule a training or program for your organization, email Bracha Jakofsky.

    Safer Camps engages Jewish day and overnight camp administration and counselors in training and discussion about establishing and maintaining healthy boundaries, the signs and symptoms of child abuse and neglect, responding to disclosures or suspicions of abuse and neglect and mandated reporting laws. More than 700 Camp Directors and Counselors are trained in this program annually. Consultations to discuss policies and protocols are available by request.  

    • Objectives and Benefits
      • Camp personnel have a heightened understanding of their roles and responsibilities – including legal obligations – to safeguard camper's overall well-being.
      • Camp personnel feel more comfortable responding sensitively and appropriately to situations involving suspicions or disclosures of abuse and neglect.

    Boundaries, Abuse and Mandated Reporter Training 
    JCFS offers Boundaries, Abuse and Mandated Reporting training to schools, synagogues, camps and organizations that serve children and families. Training includes discussions about establishing and maintaining healthy boundaries, the signs and symptoms of child abuse and neglect, responding to disclosures or suspicions of abuse and neglect, and mandated reporting responsibilities. This training meets the requirements established by the State of Illinois Department of Public Health.  

    Safer Shabbat
    Synagogues are encouraged to designate one Shabbat a year as Safer Shabbat, to celebrate the strength within abuse survivors of all ages and circumstances and bring the community together to acknowledge the hardship and inspire empowerment. We have designed a Safer Shabbat Resource Guide with language and prayers focused on abuse prevention and survivor support.  The Guide also includes additional educational material for synagogues to share with congregants via their newsletters and/or website to enhance their Shabbat table discussions and beyond.

    To report suspicions or knowledge of child abuse or neglect, call the DCFS Hotline at 1.800.25.ABUSE (1.800.252.2873

    Support & Funding:
    The Leo S. Guthman Fund and other generous donors

    For more information please contact:
    Bracha Jakofsky, Abuse Prevention Coordinator & Mental Health Educator, 847.745.5430.