Tuesday, April 12, 2005

The Issue of Anonymity

Is it appropriate that the FrumTeens moderator remains anonymous? Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, writing in Jewish Action, appears to think so:

Forgive the cloak-and-dagger stuff, but M has good reason to keep his identity secret. It allows him to speak bluntly to his audience, without defending his positions to everyone who would do things differently. It also forces the reader to focus on the merits of his arguments, rather than to link his words to his positions.


Yet why should the moderator not have to defend his positions, as does everyone else? Why shouldn't the impressionable teen - or his/her parents - be allowed to know the moderator's identity and positions?

Furthermore, while there may be reasons for the moderator to keep his identity secret, there are even more important reasons for the public to know his identity. Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro is quoted as follows:


...bad influences sometimes come in the guise of actual assistance. Because at-risk and confused teenagers are often desperate for assistance - as are their parents - they will turn to anyone who promises salvation. The results are often disastrous, as in the following examples:

For years, "Mr. Bergman" (not his real name) was involved in helping troubled teenagers. A number of them are actually indebted to him, for he really did help. Not long ago, "Mr. Bergman" was arrested for pilfering electronic and computer equipment from his place of work, supposedly fencing" (selling) the stolen items through teenagers who he dealt with.

A principal of a local Bais Yaakov school was informed by a teenage girl that her wayward friend, who had trouble getting admitted into a school, was so desperate that she accepted assistance from a member of our community who offered to help get her into a school in return for immoral behavior.

A teenage girl who was having trouble getting along with her parents met a couple in a late-night Kosher restaurant. The couple offered the girl a "job" as a "model" if she would run away from home and take shelter with them.

A man who used to work for a prominent Frum social service organization continued his "chesed" of helping wayward teenagers on his own, until it was discovered that the reason he no longer works for that organization would frighten any parent from letting their teenager near him.

The purpose of relating these unfortunate but very true stories is to issue a word of caution to parents of rebellious youth: Be careful where you go for help. There are many reasons why an adult would want to work with problem adolescents - reasons that range from altruism down... Rebellious teenagers are vulnerable teenagers. Their families, desperate. All easy targets for unwell or unscrupulous predators.



This is not intended to cast any suspicions on the FrumTeens moderator, Heaven forbid. But Rabbi Shapiro's point is entirely accurate: In this day and age, it is unacceptable to have people wielding great power over vulnerable teens if they are not supervised in some way. Even if the person is not a predator, there must be a basic system for accountability. And the most basic requirement for accountability is that the person's identity be known.

33 Comments:

At 8:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why can't those same teens which go to frumteens seek help and advice on how to be frum from www.hashkafah.com ... just like the teens from www.jhigh.com did ?

 
At 10:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So a criticizm of anonymity on an anonymous blog.

 
At 10:27 AM, Anonymous Schaefer said...

This blog does not claim to be an authoritative site for vulnerable teens, so anonymity doesn't matter. Frumteens does claim to be such a thing, so anonymity is a problem.

 
At 11:19 AM, Anonymous imainish said...

There shouldn't be a website for teens or anyone else for that matter that espouses hate and divisiveness. Period. This moderator is a menace to society. The man is obviously not qualified to do anything productive in the field of education so he hides behind a website and cloaks himself in anonymity. This is all a ruse for him to be able to promote his disguting propaganda without any oversight. Rabbi Alderstein should be harshly criticized for his article and our leadership should loudly be calling for this web site to be shut down.

 
At 11:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you quoting Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro because you suspect him to be the Moderator?

 
At 2:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

He's annonomous so people don't say 'he's saying that b/c he's part of the such n such group. He wants them to concentrate on the message and Not which group he's part of.

-sharona

 
At 2:25 PM, Anonymous Herman said...

You've lowered yourself to this, because you dont like his views on zionism ??

dude, your have waay too much time on your hands.

 
At 2:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"if they are not supervised in some way."

"there must be a basic system for accountability"

Your quoting some guy who wrote about child molestors, and your worried about someone sitting behind a screen who insists on remaining anonymous, ??

how does knowing his identity make him more or less 'accountable' for what he says ? whatta you gonna do sned him a e-mail teeling him you dont like him telling little girls they cant tlak to boys ??... oh, no.. mr godol doesnt like shomer negiah rules..whatta mi gonna do.. :)

 
At 10:46 PM, Anonymous abdullah said...

Rabbi Alderstein was duped into writing that article and had no idea of the true nature of frumteens when he wrote that article. He as since been informed of the truth, though I am not sure if he will be recanting the article.

 
At 10:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, but the explanations given R. Adlerstein don't even make sense. Words and arguments *are* positions.

 
At 4:12 PM, Anonymous Rick said...

Aish Hatorah provides programs called Bliss in Marriage and Parenting that would help these families.

 
At 3:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro because you suspect "
Not because he is suspected because he is!

 
At 5:27 PM, Blogger Frumteens Review said...

http://frumteensreview.blogspot.com/

 
At 6:48 PM, Anonymous clavicle said...

one reason he's veiled in anonymity is b/c the life of him AND his family has been threatened..the real stuff.

 
At 11:20 PM, Anonymous Michael said...

Yakov Shapiro is the moderator. There was one of his rants against Chabad where he mentions that he once received a dollar from the Rebbe that was given to him by his counselor, and he named a Lubavitcher guy, who is now a Shliach.
We checked with the guy, and, sure enough, he remembers the incident, and named Ya'akov Shapiro.

 
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