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Congregation Darchei Noam Abuse & Misconduct Policy

Introduction

The inherent right of all individuals to be treated with dignity and respect is central to Judaic values and beliefs. Congregation Darchei Noam (“Darchei Noam”) is committed to operating a religious institution which fosters mutual respect for the dignity, well-being and safety of all employees and members of, and visitors to, Darchei Noam. To promote a healthy and supportive environment at Darchei Noam as a workplace, a religious institution and a place of study, worship, and assembly, Darchei Noam fully supports and upholds the right of employees and members of, and visitors to, Darchei Noam to be free from abuse, both while on the shul grounds and off while engaged in operations, activities and/or programs related to Darchei Noam.

To put these values into practice, we have developed this policy for addressing potential discrimination, abuse, and harassment in our community, which includes all clergy, staff members, congregants, and guests. This policy’s purpose is twofold:

  1. to take proactive measures to prohibit and address discrimination, harassment, bullying and other abusive behaviors, which undermine the above values; and,
  2. to ensure that our values are woven into the fabric of our organization by embedding prevention practices in our programs, operations, and culture.

This document is not static. It is meant to be revisited and to change as we continue to learn and grow as an organization and community.

Policy Statement

Congregation Darchei Noam (“Darchei Noam”) does not tolerate abuse, harassment, or misconduct of a sexual or any other nature and prohibits these activities in the synagogue or during any congregational activity or program. Darchei Noam provides procedures for employees, volunteers, board members, or any other victims of abuse, harassment or misconduct to report such acts. Those reasonably suspected or believed to have committed abuse, harassment, or misconduct, whether in the synagogue or outside, will be appropriately disciplined, up to and including termination of employment or membership, removal from volunteer positions, banning from the facility and/or being criminally prosecuted. No employee, volunteer, board member or other person, regardless of his or her title or position, has the authority to commit or allow abuse, harassment, or misconduct.

Definitions and Examples

The following definitions or examples of sexual abuse, misconduct, or harassment, which are all strictly prohibited, may apply to any and/or all the following persons: employees, volunteers, members or other third parties. Abuse, harassment, or misconduct may include, but is not limited to:

  • Sexual abuse includes the making of lewd or vulgar comments, unwanted touching, and demanding sexual contact for any spiritual, financial, or other gain.
  • Child sexual abuse—any sexual activity, involvement or attempt at sexual contact with a person who is a minor (under 18 years old). This includes any request for a touch by a minor or to touch a minor.
  • Sexual activity with another who is legally incompetent or otherwise unable to give consent. This includes any request for a touch by- or to touch- such an individual, which is strictly prohibited.
  • Physical assaults or violence, such as rape, sexual assault, abuse, molestation, or any attempt to commit such acts.
  • Watching, photographing, or recording another undress or use the restroom or mother’s room, whether secretly or by intimidation is strictly prohibited.
  • Unwanted and intentional physical conduct that is sexual in nature, such as touching, pinching, patting, brushing, tickling, kissing, massaging and/or pulling another's body or clothes.
  • Exposing one's genitals, buttocks or breasts to a child or non-consenting adult is sexual abuse and strictly prohibited.
  • Inappropriate contact such as wrestling between an adult and child. However, limited contact such as holding a young child’s hand to cross the street, “high-fiving” a child for a job-well done or shaking hands with a child are acceptable.
  • Showing, offering, or creating material such as pornographic or sexually explicit images, posters, calendars, or objects.
  • Unwelcome and inappropriate sexual activities, advances, comments, innuendoes, bullying, jokes, gestures, electronic communications, or messages (e.g., email, text, social media, voicemail), intimidation, exploitation, exposure, leering, stalking, or invasion of sexual privacy.
  • A sexually hostile environment characterized as comments or conduct that unreasonably interferes with one's work performance or ability to do the job or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment.
  • Direct or implied threats that submission to sexual advances will be a condition of employment or affiliation with the congregation.

The following definitions or examples of abuse, misconduct or harassment of a non-sexual nature, which are also strictly prohibited, may apply to any and/or all the following persons: employees, volunteers, members, or other third parties. Such abuse, harassment or misconduct may include, but is not limited to:

  • Bullying or cyberbullying, including repeated physical actions or gestures, written, verbal or electronic expressions, the use of slurs, negative stereotyping, or denigrating jokes that
    • shows aversion or is demeaning to the targeted person;
    • causes physical or emotional harm to the targeted person/group;
    • damages a person’s property;
    • places a person in reasonable fear of harm to himself or herself or of damage to his or her property;
    • creates a hostile environment at shul for any person;
    • infringes on the rights of any person at shul; or
    • materially and substantially disrupts the religious process or the orderly operation of the synagogue.
  • Physical Abuse, which may consist of just one incident, or may happen repeatedly, involves deliberately using force against an individual in such a way that the person is either injured or is at risk of being injured. Physical abuse includes beating, hitting, shaking, pushing, choking, biting, burning, kicking, or assaulting an individual with a weapon.
  • Emotional Abuse, which includes harming an individual’s sense of identity, dignity or self-worth through verbal assault, humiliation, intimidation, infantilization, confinement, isolation, threatening disproportionate punishment, or withholding issuance or receipt of a Get.

Reporting and Handling of Complaints

Reporting Procedure

If you have personally been the victim of assault or abuse, immediately report it to the police. If you don't know how or would like someone to accompany you to the police station to make your report, a member of the Member Safety Committee (report@darcheinoam.com) will assist you.

Anyone with personal knowledge of or information regarding misconduct or abuse must immediately report suspected sexual abuse or misconduct to the Member Safety Committee, president@darcheinoam.com, Vice President@darcheinoam.com, or Chair of Youth Department (or other executive board member) of the congregation. It is not required to directly confront either the suspected victim or suspect before notifying any of the individuals listed. Darchei Noam will ensure that those named in complaint of misconduct or are too closely associated with those involved in the complaint will not be part of any investigative team.

Investigation and Follow-up

Darchei Noam will take all allegations of abuse, harassment, or misconduct seriously and will promptly, thoroughly, and equitably investigate all allegations. The congregation may utilize an outside third party to investigate misconduct. Darchei Noam will cooperate fully with any investigation conducted by law enforcement or other regulatory/protective services agencies. Darchei Noam will make every reasonable effort to keep the matters involved in the allegation as confidential as possible while still allowing for a prompt and thorough investigation. Darchei Noam may suspend employment or bar attendance while an investigation is ongoing.

The principles of accountability, potential victim’s safety, confidentiality (to the extent reasonably possible), transparency (in dealing with the involved parties) and avoidance of conflict of interest will guide any actions taken to address a suspected incident.

Reporting to Law Enforcement or Appropriate Child or Adult Protective Services

Darchei Noam is committed to following the state and federal legal requirements for reporting allegations or incidents of sexual abuse or misconduct to appropriate law enforcement and child or adult protective services organizations. It is the policy of Darchei Noam not to attempt to investigate or assess the validity or credibility of an allegation of sexual or physical abuse as a condition before reporting the allegation to proper law enforcement authorities or protective services organizations.

Anti-retaliation and False Allegations

Darchei Noam prohibits retaliation made against any employee, volunteer, board member, member, visitor, or other person who lodges a good faith complaint of sexual abuse or misconduct or who participates in any related investigation. Making knowingly false or malicious accusations of sexual abuse or misconduct can have serious consequences for those who are wrongly accused. Darchei Noam prohibits making false or malicious sexual misconduct allegations, as well as deliberately providing false information during an investigation. Anyone who violates this rule is subject to disciplinary action, including termination of employment or membership and criminal prosecution.

Potential Sanctions

Any Employee found to have engaged in any type of abuse will be subject to disciplinary sanctions up to and including dismissal, as well as potential criminal prosecution.

Any member or visitor of Darchei Noam found to have engaged in any type of abuse of a Darchei Noam Employee, another member or visitor while on shul grounds and/or during a shul-sponsored program will be subject to sanctions, which may include temporary or permanent loss of membership or being banned from the shul grounds.

Protocols Darchei Noam Will Follow to Reduce Risk

Employee and Volunteer Screening and Selection

As part of its commitment to the prevention of sexual abuse and misconduct Darchei Noam maintains a diligent screening program for prospective and existing employees, volunteers and others that may interact with those employed by, associating with or serviced by Darchei Noam. The congregation may utilize a variety of methods of screening and selection, including but not limited to applications, personal interviews, criminal background checks, sexual offender registry checks, and personal and professional references.

All employees plus volunteers who are working in a formal capacity with children will be SORI and CORI checked; this includes Youth Committee members and Youth Director(s). Regular youth group leaders will be asked to provide references and reasonably vetted.

Communication and acceptance of policy

Upon adoption of this policy, it will be circulated to all current members. Each will be asked to acknowledge their receipt, understanding and acceptance of the policy.

All new members will receive a copy of this policy as part of their new member packet. They will be required to acknowledge receipt and understanding in their membership application.

In addition, the Rabbi, professional Youth Leaders, and all Board members will be asked to sign a Code of Conduct, committing to responsibility for appropriate behavior.

Preventative measures related to supervision of youth

Two Person Policy: To provide a safe environment for minors, Darchei Noam strives to maintain a two-person policy whenever possible, where during any program with youth, there are two adults present. The purpose is to avoid one-on-one interactions between adults and minors that are not easily observable by others. When the policy cannot be followed, parents should be notified ahead of time.

One-on-one meetings: If individual study sessions or counseling with a minor must be held, the door to the office or classroom should be kept open, if possible, and the meeting should take place within eyesight of the door. Parents must be made aware of such meetings.

Youth Training: It is common practice at Darchei Noam to use volunteers who are between the ages of 12 and 18. They are both protected by and subject to following these policies. Training, especially for youth leaders of these ages, will include a review of this policy and best practices for interacting with younger children.

 

 

v 0.3 — Draft copy - to be reviewed and ratified by the board. This document was last updated June 26, 2022.

Thu, August 18 2022 21 Av 5782