Why are we so reticent to discuss these problems, to admit that they exist within Klal, to come up with clear cut solutions to the problems? (Just a note: some of us cannot even verbalize the words indicating a problem. Plenty of people who will not say "cancer," calling it instead "yeneh machlah.") One answer that is all too common was given to me years ago when I first went to register my children in a local Bais Yaakov school. I asked why the school had no psychological testing pre-admission and why the school had no resource room. The answer? "Alleh Yiddishe Kinderlach are perfect." Say what?
Yup, that's us, the perfect people. We aren't prone to any of the problems that exist in the outside world. Somehow we are genetically structured such that we can't possibly have any problems.
Another answer that is given is the old "let's not wash our dirty linen in public" line. The problem with that approach is that the "dirty linen" never gets washed at all, and it sits and stinks and festers.
Another answer I've heard is the one about its being ossur to embarrass people in public. Let me see if I am getting this correct. A man beats his wife and children and we are worried about publicly embarrassing him? A child suffers the pain of sexual abuse by a family member or school authority and we tell him/her to keep a lid on it because someone might get embarrassed?
Someone has a physical/mental/emotional/learning disability and our prime concern is about embarrassment? Just whose embarrassment are we talking about here--theirs or ours? Why is getting help equated with embarrassment? Shouldn't the goal be accomodation? Or facilitation?
A little note: do you have any idea of how many special ed teachers Touro and all the other programs under frum auspices graduate a year?! Just where is it and who is it that these teachers are going to be teaching when no frum kids have problems and frum schools really, really don't like having special ed programs?
And then there is the old standby: having problems is bad for shidduchim. So getting help when a problem arises and perhaps solving that problem is a bad thing, but hiding the problem, lying about it, is a wonderful thing for shidduchim, particularly when the problem openly surfaces after a marriage takes place? What kind of a cockeyed world do we live in where someone with a hearing loss is told not to get a hearing aid because it's visible, and that would be bad for shidduchim? What kind of perverted logic says don't wear your glasses while dating because it's bad for shidduchim? Perhaps not recognizing your choson/kallah under the chupah might be a bigger problem?
Here are some facts, unpalatable as they may be. There are sexual predators in Klal. There are abusive parents and spouses in Klal. There are drunkards in Klal. There are drug abusers in Klal.
And yes, there are people with physical, mental and emotional disabilities in Klal. Pretending that these people don't exist doesn't magically make us all perfect.
We still lag behind the general public in providing opportunities for those among us who have physical/mental/emotional disabilities. Yeshivas today have a unique way of dealing with these problems: they refuse admission to students who manifest any of the problems. Might as well put the Jewish version of NIMBY in the Yinglish dictionary--NIMBM, not in my bais medrash. I heard one school administrator make a public statement that his yeshiva was simply not set up to handle such "problems." Well sir, why not? Dyslexia is not typhus, and you don't really need to worry about anyone else catching it. Speech, hearing and vision problems are likewise not diseases that are catching.
As for those truly sick people who prey upon the vulnerable members of Klal among us and commit heinous acts, I have nothing but contempt. As far as I am concerned, throw the book at them, throw every book at them, hell, throw anything you can find at them and put them away where they cannot harm us any longer. And that goes for their "protectors" as well. And let's get our priorities straight--it is the victim who deserves our concern, not the victimizer.
Were we living in a world where there was no research and knowledge of and no help available for the many problems that can beset people, I might better understand the reticence to talk about the problems. But that is not the case. Knowledge is available, so help should be available. Not taking advantage of that knowledge and that available help becomes foolish to the n-th degree.