Education is crucial in changing Israeli society’s approach toward sexual assault as public knowledge of this issue is often skewed, vague or damaging. Therefore, the Center’s Education Department reaches out to a vast array of schools, educators, at-risk populations, professionals, organizations, governmental agencies, corporations and public forums to provide research-based, concrete information about sexual assault.
Middle and High School Students School Settings:
The Center began this educational programming for this demographic to address the significant increase in calls to our crisis hotlines from youth ages 13 to 18. These children are at a pivotal stage in their development which will have an enduring impact on their future sense of autonomy, control, self-image, personal boundaries and behavioral norms. It is for this reason that the Center works hard to provide programming regarding healthy sexual interactions and sexual assault prevention for this age group. These workshops serve a dual purpose- teens who have survived sexual assault are given a safe space to open up about their story with our facilitators as well as seek further treatment, at the same time the courses change group members’ perceptions and attitudes towards sexual assault. In addition, the workshops also deal with peer pressure, gang rape, violent pornography, gender-related violence, body image and sexual abuse via the Internet as a counterbalance to the alarming growth of these issues that we are observing in the field. Our workshops use an interactive teaching model, include an average of three consecutive meetings with each group of students.
Middle and High School Students Informal Education Settings:
The Center also works with a variety of informal educational structures to further combat sexual assault among teens. In Israel, hundreds of thousands of teenagers participate in youth movements on a weekly basis. Our partnership with the Israeli Scouts, Ha Naor Ha Oved ve Halomed, Dror Israel, Maacabi, etc. as well as alternative summer camp programs helps us to expose Israeli youth to age-appropriate programming on subjects such as self-respect, building healthy relationships, gender harassment, consensual vs. non-consensual sex, legal definitions/implications of sexual assault, peer pressure, violence and cyber-based sexual abuse. This program focuses on training professional staff, youth movement leaders as well as youth group members. Additionally, our education department reaches out to teens through our highly active social media campaigns on Facebook. We also produce informative videos and pamphlets specially designed for teenagers in order to provide easily accessible information on topics that teenagers are faced with on a regular basis.
Education: Psycho-Educational Workshops for National Religious Students
Among religious youth the pressure to keep silent about sexual assault is particularly intense, given their relative isolation, maintenance of religious norms and social boundaries, as well as their homogeneous, community-oriented way of life. A child raised in this environment is brought up on the values of obeying authority figures and refraining from gossip. “Informing” on someone is considered a grave sin, which prevents religious youth from exposing the fact that someone has abused them. In addition, the relative isolation of the community leads to dealing with problems within the confines of their society instead of appealing to outside professional sources for assistance. Due to the distinctive needs of this group, the Center’s programming among religious youth is facilitated by educators who are knowledgeable about and sensitive to the religious world. Our educators are matched with yeshivot, seminaries, religious boarding schools for both boys and girls along with other Institutions based on their knowledge as well as their ability to be viewed as an accepted member of the particular sub-sect that they are addressing. We also provided lectures for religious youth in a wide range of alternative settings such as National Service Centers whose volunteers consist of 18-year-old religious girls, and religious soldiers just beginning their army service. In addition to raising awareness and providing educational information, our workshops and lectures also enable survivors to turn to our educators as a resource and even disclose their abuse. Upon disclosure, our educators set up face-to-face crisis counseling sessions as well as other services in a manner customized to meet the unique cultural and religious sensitivities of these youth.
Trainings for Educators – Tools to Identify Sexual Abuse, Support Students and Treat Secondary Trauma
Educators are often on the “front lines” when it comes to spotting and dealing with issues of sexual assault. Unfortunately, with no mandatory training on this issue through the Ministry of Education, they are often ill-equipped to help students navigate through this difficult process. The Center therefore offers specialized workshops for educators. Our revamped workshop curriculum gives educators the training necessary to assist students who have undergone abuse by learning to: identify signs of abuse, create a safe dialogue with victimized students and supply information regarding the relevant laws as well as the principle of consent and appropriate support services. Moreover, we also offer support and information regarding secondary trauma for these educators so that they can cope better with the emotional reverberations of their student's experiences, rather than to be left alone to handle the strain as they so often have been prior to this programming.
Parents often feel helpless when it comes to protecting their child from sexual violence or dealing with its aftermath. For this reason, the Center has developed a workshop series specifically geared for parents on the subject of parenting and sexual abuse among adolescents as well as produced digital outreach to aid parents. The workshops cover a number of issues including stereotypes and myths about sexuality and sexual abuse; boundaries and group pressure among adolescents; sexual abuse on the Internet; the parental role; how to communicate as well as create a dialogue with our children; approaches for problem solving; identify warning signs and how to help during a crisis situation. Many of the schools that we work are now helping us to coordinate workshops for parents in tandem with the programming that we provide for the students. We also have specific communities or organizations that have established regular workshops and lectures with our staff, such as Machon Adler Institute for Parenting etc.
Our experience in the field strongly indicates that at-risk - disadvantaged children and teenagers - who, in Israel, are frequently living in court mandated boarding schools and/or treated by the municipal welfare departments have less access to our services and do not generally come forward on their own in cases of abuse. These children are often socialized to view themselves as sexual objects; sexual advances are understood as the only legitimate forms of communication and validation. Consequently, they are much more exposed to incidents of sexual assault from an early age and are more prone to keep their suffering a painful secret. Many of these children react to the abuse by developing harmful and dangerous behaviors, such as substance addictions, suicide attempts, eating disorders, criminal activities, prostitution and various post-traumatic symptoms. This in turn further complicates their situation, as they are then viewed as “problem children” within the welfare system. In order to prevent a further downward spiral, it is critical that issues of abuse are addressed as early as possible. With this goal in mind the Center has intensified its community outreach and tailored its programming to at-risk populations. We have reached out to boarding schools, social service units, hostels, group homes, informal education programs and welfare organizations to raise awareness of the implications of sexual assault and explain the importance of such programming to institutions that work with disadvantaged youth. Through this outreach, we identify and build partnerships with a wide variety of at-risk youth programs to provide workshops as well as intensive group work. Importantly, we have also made extensive efforts to collaborate with organizations that work with the ‘hardest cases’ in the field such as mental health institutions that are closed facilities, post-psychiatric hospitalization transition programs, teen drug rehabilitation, and court mandated programs for teen offenders etc. We often experience initial reluctance on the part of institution administrations to focus on this complicated, taboo issue. However, we have found that by directly approaching guidance counselors and principals we are able to present a strong case for the great value of providing sexual assault education to at-risk youth. Institutional personnel are also impressed with the extensive training that we provide specifically for staff members who work with at- risk youth in tandem with every workshop that we provide for the teens. We have found that these staff trainings not only give staff members the means to help properly identify and address issues of sexual assault among their students. Rather, even after our workshops have ended, they lead to a more understanding, supportive approach by staff members as they can now relate much better to the issues that the teens are dealings with. Additionally, the trainings give staff members the chance to focus on and acquire tools to cope with the secondary trauma that they themselves experience as a result of their challenging work with children with complex traumatic histories. Through demonstrating the value of our programming for both youth and staff, we have been able to expand significantly since the program’s inception. Our program also helps teens find behavioral alternatives and to utilize effective communication techniques to protect their personal boundaries. We provide tools for teens to identify situations leading to sexual violence, develop healthy relationships and learn how to withstand peer pressure. Knowledge is power, and the tools and information provided in our workshops facilitate change in prevailing attitudes, perceptions and misconceptions of sexual violence. We also emphasize the small but very important details that make the programming more effective. For instance, we have our group facilitators linger around after each session in order to create a safe, natural space for youth to come forward with a personal story or problem.
Education: Programming Run in Conjunction with the Israeli Military
Due to the nature of Israel’s military, the vast majority of new army recruits have only just reached 18 years of age when they are required to begin their service in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). For many of them this is the first time that they are living outside of their parent’s home and their new structure’s formidability can be compounded if they are faced with issues of sexual assault or harassment. Incidents of sexual violence during this formative period, when these young men and women are taking their first steps towards independence as well as when they are weighed down with the intense responsibilities that the military requires of them, can have devastating consequences. For this reason, the Center runs a number of programs in conjunction with the IDF. These include a support group for survivors of sexual assault who are active-duty military as well as lectures for officers and recruits from various units such as the Navy, Military Intelligence, Artillery, Air Force etc. This crucial programming is changing the manner in which the IDF approaches issues of sexual assault as well as each soldier’s ability to seek help when such incidents occur. Furthermore, we partner with the military's crisis support program, MAHUT, which the Center helped to form.
Sexual Harassment Prevention in the Workplace: Trainings for Businesses and Corporations
The Center has invested heavily in preventative measures to address the all too prevalent issue of sexual harassment in the workplace. We offer workshops and lectures, each customized to the distinct corporate or organizational culture of the particular group that we are training. Prior to each training, we meet with Human Resources management and together with them assess the nature or characteristics of the specific work environment so as to best focus on the issues faced by those participating in the training. We facilitate special sexual harassment prevention trainings for management as well as employees in a wide variety of companies. According to Israeli law, workplaces are legally required to appoint an employee to handle cases of sexual harassment or assault. Unfortunately, no specific training or support for these appointees is mandated by the law, which makes this challenging job even more difficult. To further complicate this situation, some of these representatives are appointed unwillingly and are then put in a position wherein they are faced with the daunting predicament of advocating for their coworkers in circumstances that place them in conflict with others in their office or with management. Moreover, most workplaces provide no extra pay or other form of compensation for the position. The Center therefore provides trainings for these representatives from a wide array of workplaces in order to give them the tools to properly address issues of sexual harassment as well as to cope with the emotional difficulties that their position entails. These trainings include live actor simulations of challenging situations that often arise for representatives, discussions about how to listen to a coworker’s complaint of sexual harassment in a supportive way, education regarding legal requirements and procedures etc. Additionally, upon request of the companies we help draft a customized sexual harassment policy and procedure protocol for individual companies. These representatives are also provided with the means to receive further emotional and practical support as well as counseling for secondary trauma from the Center when they encounter cases of sexual harassment. Importantly, this ongoing connection with the Center also gives these representatives the means of supporting their coworkers as they refer them for to us in cases of sexual harassment. To schedule a training please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sexual Harassment Prevention in the Workplace: Trainings for Governmental Bodies
The Center facilitates in-depth Sexual Assault Prevention training specifically for Workplace Mandated Representatives in municipalities throughout Israel. The course offers continuing education credits for course participants. This course is for participants nation-wide, with representatives from municipal localities across the country and from a variety of different populations, including the Arab sector. This course had a very significant impact as its participants are key governmental officials in their local municipalities.
Sexual Harassment Prevention in the Workplace: Trainings for Non-Profit Organizations
The Center facilitates sexual harassment prevention workshops customized for NGOs such as community centers, youth centers, hostels and social service providers. We also conduct workshops for the disabled community, for people with mental health disorders and cognitive disabilities- a population with a heightened rate of exposure to sexual assault. Participants from these communities as well as the staff caregivers undergo specially tailored workshops.
Sexual Harassment Prevention in the Workplace: Interactive Virtual Trainings
A great deal of our trainings have had to be held virtually in 2020, which also sparked us to create a new interactive online tutorial in both Hebrew and English. In addition, together with our sister Rape Crisis Centers, we offer a website that deals specifically with issues related to the prevention of sexual harassment in the Israeli workplace: www.hatradaminit.co.il. The site serves as a comprehensive resource on this topic and includes information for employers, managers and employees. It also provides information regarding the Centers’ training programs and courses.