Rabbi Yaakov Horowitz’s latest contribution to the war on abuse rises above all dissension and conflict. His Project Y.E.S., in conjunction with ArtScroll, has released a book for children that comes as close as you can get to a vaccine against the deadly scourge. Let’s Stay Safe! will inoculate our community through a controlled dose of exposure. While it cannot prevent the disease, it can lower the incidence, by making our children less attractive targets, and better reporters of untoward behavior.
Yanky Horowitz has long been a hero of mine for his forthrightness and courage. In this undertaking, he merges the will to make a difference with the expertise of behavioral professionals. The wisdom of Drs. David Pelcovitz (who also does an intro) and Benzion Twerski jumps out from the pages of this attractively produced volume. The illustrations are culturally relevant to the frum community and thoroughly upbeat. Bracha Goetz, another courageous crusader against abuse, wrote the text. She knows children; she knows the dark universe of abuse; she knows how to write.
There is so much to praise. While this is a book about abuse, it is not about abuse alone, but about safety. It deals with bicycle helmets and fire safety, about crossing streets and what to do when you get lost – all important in their own right, and deserving of attention in the frum community. By dealing with many issues of safety, segueing into more delicate issues becomes more natural and less strained.
Most importantly, the book places responsibility for educating and protecting children where it belongs – with parents. This is not a school text. It is meant to be read to children by their parents. It opens up discussion, rather than provides all the answers. Think of it as a programmed text for parents to be able to deal with a host of issues fully and effectively – including conveying to children borders of privacy that cannot be breached. If parents forget anything, a summary page at the end won’t let them close the book without dealing with all angles and issues.
Any way you translate it, a kav of prevention ought to be worth more than a koor of cure. Let’s Stay Safe! is a precious achievement, and it will save lives.