Meet the Parenting / Chinuch / Child Safety Forum Leader
Rabbi Yakov Horowitz
Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, Founding Dean of Monsey’s Yeshiva Darchei Noam and Director of The Center for Jewish Family Life, conducts child abuse prevention and parenting workshops internationally, and sponsors the Bnos’ One on One Big Sister Program with branches in...
Our fourth grade son loves his Rebbe and we are thrilled. A few weeks ago on as a reward for doing really well on his Chumash test, his Rebbe told him that he didn’t have to take the school bus home, he would drive him. We found out later, that this is common practice for this Rebbe. It makes the boys in the class feel really special and they work hard to earn this special time alone with their Rebbe. My husband has no problem with this, and neither did the other mothers I’ve spoken with.
Is this some kind of a red flag? Am I just paranoid because I follow your work on Facebook and my sister is a social worker who has shared lots of scary stories? Should I call the Rebbe or the Menahel? My husband thinks I will spoil a great relationship. I don’t want to ruin our Sholom Bayis either over a 15 minute car ride on a Friday afternoon.
My “mommy’s danger radar” went red and began wailing when I read that a teacher took a child home in his car without parents’ consent. And it is illegal for somebody to pick up a child from school without parents’ permission. Aside from that, what if you were planning to pick up your son on that day from school for whatever reason only to find out that somebody else took your kid home?
Now, the Rebbi is most likely innocent, but I’d ask him to call me every time he wants to take my son home. I’d coat it into something like “oh, my son loved it, but if I (my mother, husband, babysitter) was waiting for him at the bus stop / was planning to pick him up from school, we’d run into a problem and I’d have to ruin such a special moment for my son (in addition to your piece of mind, you’re sending a very strong message “I must know where and with whom my child is”).
I would also talk to school and/or Rebbi (discuss the best route for this with somebody who knows the local “politics”) to make them aware that the Rebbi is doing (inadvertently) something that is illegal; and, in today’s day and age might expose the school to litigation and himself to suspicions. You’d need to be careful, though, to sound like you’re trying to be super helpful so as not to sound as if you’re actually accusing the Rebbi.
And yet, I’d sit down with my son and praise him for having earned the reward, and in a friendly, excited way (or whatever gets your kid to talk) would ask about the ride.
Did your Rebbi have music in the car? What type? I.e., begin from afar, put him at ease, and slide in such questions as “what did you talk about”, “where did you sit”, “Did you make any stops”, and pay it by the air. Your sister could probably give you a more professional advise on what key questions to ask, and what kind of answers/ behaviors/ reactions to look out for.
This may sound a bit paranoid, but this is what I’d do. I also learned that, as a mother, I have to follow my gut feeling. If you’re uncomfortable about something, look into it. Hopefully it’s nothing, but if, HV’S, it’s something, you’ll be able to deal with it. H’ gave us Bina Yeseira for a reason. It (probably) doesn’t make us neviot, and we might be wrong at times, but I wouldn’t ignore my gut feeling.
Hope your son gives you much nachas!