Rochel Leah Deitcher

Philanthropist and advocate Rochel Leah Bernstein founded the Child Safety Pledge (CSP) as a catalyst for protecting children from sexual predators in youth-serving organizations. Through the Child Safety Pledge process, funders and donor activists help youth-serving organizations adopt the best practices they need to prevent and report child sexual abuse.

CSP became an independent nonprofit venture in July 2018. The project began as an initiative of Jumpstart Labs, which developed the initial research, strategy, and funder consultation process in partnership with Ms. Bernstein. Working together, they created the idea for a pledge for funders of YSOs to commit to holding their grantees to the highest standards for protecting kids from CSA in their organizations. Once piloted, the goal was to bring it to other faith-based and secular philanthropic arenas in the hopes of making it a universal standard. In 2017, four major foundations became the first to sign the Child Safety Pledge.

The challenge of fighting child sexual abuse (CSA) is compounded by the silence that surrounds the topic, and the fact that private YSOs are not subject to the laws that require robust training and prevention regimens. Erin’s Law (named for childhood sexual assault survivor, author, speaker and activist Erin Merryn who is its champion) has been passed in 31 states, and requires all public schools in each state implement a prevention-oriented child sexual abuse program. The law has transformed the way public schools go about teaching personnel, parents, and children how to prevent, recognize, and respond to child sexual abuse. Inspired by Ms. Merryn’s example, Ms. Bernstein wanted to devise a strategy that would have an equally widespread effect on YSOs, starting with those in the Jewish community, and then moving on to other faith-based realms and the secular world.

In the coming months CSP will continue its efforts to encourage funders to adopt the Pledge, and offer support for how our communal organizations can upgrade their safety infrastructure to better prevent and respond to child sexual abuse.