Monday, September 7, 2009

Hands Off My Kids!

A blog posting on Sunday disturbed me greatly (what else is new). I've posted before on the topic of "Whose children are they?" Yeshivas seem to be in direct competition with parents for who will influence the children, who will decide what derech they will take, who will decide what is right and wrong. Well, camps have, for some time, been part of that equation. But the action by an employee of a day camp that Super Raizy wrote about goes beyond the pale. To see the whole posting "Big Sister is Watching Us" go to

The line that makes my blood boil is this one: "It turns out that one of the girls invited their former counselor to join, and this counselor called the director of the day camp and told her that the girls had started a blog. The director then asked the counselor for the URL and password, and deleted the entire blog without warning. "

Camp was over. A group of CITs began a blog, not mentioning the name of the camp in the blog title. They were chatting and basically saying "camp was so much fun." The director, their FORMER employer, clearly had problems with this. Did she call the parents of the children involved? Did she present to the parents her concerns? Did she ASK that the blog be taken down? Nope. She unilaterally deleted the blog. What's more, she was not given the password and url for the blog by those who put it up. They asked their FORMER counselor if she would like to post and gave that counselor the password for the purpose of posting. Instead, the counselor went straight to the camp director.

First, I am concerned that any camp director would behave in such a fashion. It is not the director's right nor responsibility to monitor what the children do outside of her tiny domain, and certainly not when they are no longer in camp. She placed her judgment above that of the parents of the children involved by never even contacting these parents. She took it upon herself to act as judge and jury.

But what truly worries me is the reaction of one of the children. She asked her mom not to say anything or do anything about the situation. Now, why do you suppose she would do so? Take away a favored toy from a child and you are going to hear complaining right and left. You're going to hear "Ma, do something! ____ took my toy!" But this is a blog, and by extention the Internet, that you are talking about. There are those whose religious viewpoint is decidedly anti-blog. They don't allow blogs for their children nor for themselves. They view the Internet as the Great Evil Empire. They are hardly quiet about making their views known. Maybe the child who didn't want mom making a fuss has got a grasp of there being something "off" about blogging that some people are going to react to negatively. Maybe this child got the idea that if she wants to work at this camp again next summer she had better keep quiet and keep her mom quiet now. I can't tell you if this is what went through the child's mind, but it's a plausible scenario. Maybe she didn't want to rock the boat. But here's the thing: she should never have been placed in this position to begin with. And oh what a lesson she may have learned.

Nonetheless, that this happened at all goes beyond disturbing. If you don't like what one of my minor children is doing, you come to ME and tell me. And if I tell you to go fly a kite, then grab that kite and go fly. This is MY child you are talking about. She is MY responsibility. You want to share parenting duties with me? Really, truly? Let's start with the basic parental responsibilities then. Hand me over a check for her tuition for next year. Pay for her braces and her glasses and her shoes. You be here to welcome her home from school and you cook supper for her. You do the laundry. She's not feeling well? You take her to the doctor and pick up the prescriptions and pay for them. You talk to her when she's in the dumps. You be the one to cheer her up. You be the one to stay up nights doing homework with her. You be the one to give her chizuk that life is going to be fine. Because if you don't do these things and all the others of millions of things that a REAL parent does for their child, you haven't the right to have a say in what she does in MY home. You surely have no right to second guess ME. If I say it is okay for my child to be doing X, how dare you say no!

There are different ways that this situation could be handled, and not every parent would choose the same way. I am not (in case you haven't noticed) the type to let something like this go. When you allow bullies (and yes, this director qualifies for the definition of bully--someone bigger/older who beats up on you) to commit such an act then they believe that no one will stop them or can stop them and they will not only continue but escalate their acts of terrorism.

It's a truism that parents say they would take a bullet for their child. They would place their life in danger to save the life of their child. No, the loss of the blog was not physically life threatening. But it was a poisoned arrow aimed directly at parental authority and control. I have gone beyond sick and tired when it comes to this type of unwarranted and unwanted intrusion into family life. When YOU, out there, no matter what position you may have in a camp or school, tell my child that she is wrong for doing something that I have allowed that child to do, you are clearly telling that child that her parent is wrong, is faulty, is not a good parent. What sniveling cowards! This camp director didn't have the guts--and maybe not the brains--to go to the parents and present her case.

I know one thing: none of mine are ever going to go to a camp that she is a director of. She clearly has an agenda that doesn't mesh with mine. And she clearly lacks mentchlichkeit.

Enough said--your turn.


Esther said...

Strongly worded but I'll agree. The problem was not the blog. The problem was the director's not going to the parents. Also believe that she should be told that she stepped over the line, even if it's done quietly by the parents without the kids knowing. Otherwise she'll do this again and again.

Anonymous said...

Parents have let some yeshivas and day schools become an instrument of 24/7 control over not only what the student does outside of school, but what the parents do (i.e. no internet in the home, no admitting a student whose mom doesn't cover her hair the right way, doesn't adhere to the latest chumra in dress, reads non-orthodosx newspapers, etc.), so isn't control by the camps the next logical thing.

Tuvi said...

Wonder what that director would think of the day camp my kids attended. They have a website and this summer they experimented and they had a blog up for the campers and for the parents.

Yet another reason I'm thankful we moved out of Brooklyn and into Jersey.

SubWife said...

My daughter's school has a policy of not allowing children unsupervised internet access. in case such an activity is discovered, this is grounds for suspension and even expulsion. I could see reasons for this policy (though at times they are quite questionable), but was a bit ticked off by the phrase, "if absolutely necessary to have at home (about internet)" in their note. is it absolutely necessary for me to have internet at home? probably not. But that's for me to decide.

On the other hand, if I am unhappy about this policy, I can send my kid to a different school.

But the situation you described is 100% wrong. At the very least parents should've been notified. If having a blog is a no-no in director's eyes, then parents needed to be informed that their offspring are engaging in something bad.

ProfK said...

A little side note on that "necessary" as regards the Internet. Give it a few more years and even yeshivas are going to have to define "necessary" differently than they do today. A number of our utilities have stopped sending out mailings with the monthly bills. They are expecting online payments. If you do request an envelope they charge you, on average, $4.50 for that privilege. Our bank long ago stopped sending back cancelled checks. If you want to view them you have to go online.

Our local library system, along with many others, is feeling the economic pinch. One way they have made things financially easier for themselves is by not having to order multiple copies of certain works for all the branch libraries. Instead those works are available only online.

It may not be the case with your job but in mine and my husband's an Internet connection is a must. I could also point out that there are many new jobs out there where initial contact is handled only through email, not through snail mail.

There are zillions of examples of where the Internet is becoming necessary and lots more sure to pop up in the very near future. The yeshivas are not only fighting a losing battle with their "necessary" tacked on to Internet usage at home, they are failing to see just how much the world has changed and will change and how central the Internet is to that change. They're not going to win this one, Instead of fighting it so hard they should be teaching responsible use. Right. That's like believing the Tooth Fairy is real.

SubWife said...


I am with you on this 100%. yeshivas might have won the war on TV (at least somewhat), but the war on the internet is a losing one. Soon, probably sooner than we think, EVERYTHING will be internet based and/or connected. And then this ostrich philosophy will prove to be absolutely ridiculous (and to some of us it already looks this way.) Instead they should be looking for ways to make it work for the frum world.

In my case, would i survive without internet connection? yes. Would i want to? No. I work and the expectations are that when I am out, the email gets checked, some work is done from home, etc. So while not "absolutely", internet connection in my home is necessary. But once again, that's for me to decide how necessary.

Lion of Zion said...


"Yet another reason I'm thankful we moved out of Brooklyn and into Jersey."

i thanked raizy for posting about this because it gave me chizzuk to get back on my wife's case that we need to leave brooklyn


"in case such an activity is discovered, this is grounds for suspension and even expulsion. I could see reasons for this policy"

i've always wondered what is the legality of how jewish schools play the role of inquisitors. one of these days the parents of a child that gets rejected from a school (or kicked out or otherwise penalized) is going to test this legality in court.

G6 said...

The follow up question is "How do we stop these BULLIES without having repurcussions visited upon our children???"

Ahuva said...

G6--I'm just not sure what a parent could do but agree that something MUST be done or it will only get worse. Maybe it needs to be the group of parents of all those CIT girls. The camp director might not react to one parent but I imagine that she might to a whole group of parents.

One thing I do know I would do and that is not allow my daughter to work in that camp next year. I'd tell my daughter that the director is not the kind of role model I want her to have. I'd tell her that the actions were wrong and why. Unless the parents take some kind of action then they are basically telling their kids that the director's actions were okay and that there is no reason to or way to fight a bully.

Lion of Zion said...


"How do we stop these BULLIES"

tell them off to their faces. ranting online won't accomplish anything


"I'm just not sure what a parent could do"

one parent can't do anything

Anonymous said...

They're not going to win this one, Instead of fighting it so hard they should be teaching responsible use.
Exactly! You can't isolate/shield children from everything but you can/should teach them to be responsible evn if this seems harder than forbidding.
We want future generations of responsible and mature Jews not brainless sheep.