Teens at Risk and Baalei Teshuva Study- What do you think the results will be?

Last week’s AJOP weekly email contained the following:

Results of the First Study on Teens at Risk and Baalei Teshuva to be Released at AJOP Convention

Yeshiva University’s Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education in partnership with the Association for Jewish Outreach Programs (AJOP) has conducted a groundbreaking study comparing adolescents who grew up in families who are newly observant, to adolescents born into families whose parents have been observant from birth. Conducted under the direction of world-renowned psychologist Dr. David Pelcovitz, this study was the first to look at this segment of the Jewish community.

I think that possible results might include:
a) A disproportionally high percentage of Kids at Risk have BT parents
b) Lack of parenting experience is a major cause
c) Not setting appropriate goals for children is another cause
d) More post BT mentoring and instruction by outreach professionals is needed
e) The many wonderful BT parents out there will be acknowledged

What do you think the results will include?

Do you think the recommendations for more post BT mentoring will bear edible fruit?

Do you think this will result in a further degrading of BTs in the Frum public’s eyes?

57 comments on “Teens at Risk and Baalei Teshuva Study- What do you think the results will be?

  1. Professional mekarvim need to match each person that becomes frum with an available family and Rav (not a superstar kiruv Rav – they are too busy) to mentor them for the next 20 years.

    This sounds a little unrealistic.

  2. During nine years I worked at Project YES with teens-at-risk and their families, we worked with about 4,000 frum families representing nearly 20,000 children. Our database showed that the ‘at-risk’ or ‘off the derech’ phenomenon was about the same for all groups. Anecdotally, it was common for individuals, whether parents or children, to ascribe causality, as exemplified in the post by Rachel. This in no way takes away from her experience.

    From a broader perspective, it is clear that each group has its own risk factors, but children of BTs are, as far as the data shows, at no greater risk than anyone else.

    Everyone who struggles, whether the resolution is to go “off” or accept the ambiguities of our frum culture and “stay,” can identify their own reaction and find support for that experience among peers. All that proves is that “birds of a feather, flock together.”

    What about all of the other children of BTs–the many siblings of the child who went off, and had the same parents and went to the same schools, lived in the same neighborhood—but stayed and even thrived? Why are these not given equal or greater weight to show the successes of frum culture? HaKores HaTov and Don L’kaf Zechus are mitzvohs precisely because they are not easy or intuitive. People always notice their problems and pains and have to struggle to appreciate the good days. This is normal–but to ascribe causality is simply irrational and I fully expect the study to bear this out.

    Zalman Lachman, LCSW-R

  3. As a child of two BT’s who took way too long to find a regular Rav, move to a mainstream community and mellow out from their intense yiras shamayim, I hope this report drives an increase in awareness that BT’s need enhanced community support throughout their entire lives. It’s not enough to mekarev someone and move on. Professional mekarvim need to match each person that becomes frum with an available family and Rav (not a superstar kiruv Rav – they are too busy) to mentor them for the next 20 years. And when community rabbis come in contact with BT’s, they need to make a special effort to reach out, connect, guide and counsel.

    Also, schools need to be made aware that children of BT’s are at increased risk not only for going off the derech, but for low self-esteem, shame, stress and loneliness. (Of course I only speak from personal experience and that of my siblings and many friends, but I imagine this is often quite accurate.) However if school guidance counselors were trained and made aware of this, perhaps the situation could be eased.

  4. well, unfortunately when I was involved I would spend time on the streets so it was a sampling of who was out on the streets. But your question I think backs up my point –that often FFB families when they have a kid on that edge might ship that kid off to a family member, shuffle the kid to a cousin or aunt, which would sidestep needing outside help.

  5. Goldy, how do your observations control for selection bias? Specifically, isn’t it at least plausible — intuitively, certainly, it seems likely — that people who “work with teens,” i.e., have social services type roles, are far more likely to see OTD kids from BT families than they are to see OTD kids from FFB families?

  6. One reason, I believe, for OTD kids is the shidduch crisis. Not as is spoken about in today’s frum circles, but in the pressure put upon children from both FFB and BT families to conform to certain ways and means in order to be desirable future shidduch material. And since BT’s already have a strike against them as BT’s, and not having familial role models to exhibit a more live-and-let-live form of Torah observance within the family situation, BT families mights be at risk for kids at risk. Or am I making stuff up?

  7. This study is not news to those on the front lines of the OTD teens — Patricia Attia told one of her clients (an OTD child of BT parents) that she believes BT parents are a risk factor but that she can’t say it because it would be protested as discriminatory to say things like that.

    Within my work with teens, I found plenty of this issue (within Chassidic OTD teens almost all had been molested. But within the non-Chassidic OTD teens, many had been children of BT couples, not exclusively, but in a disproportionate ratio).

    I hear the argument about the rigidity, but I don’t think that is so much the issue. A support network of extended family being there can be an issue, because as FFBs have babies and any crisis, there is always family to step in, whereas BT families in crisis are way more in crisis for they have NO ONE to turn to very often.

    Another factor I found is that the method we use for Kiruv often is wacky — put on a black hat and you are frum, say a few gematrias and you are an illui, but no one talks about tikkun middos and dealing with serious issues as being on par in importance as plunking on the black hat. With some of the kids I’ve seen come my way, their parents were “accepted” as frum because of levush even though those around them knew of serious middot issues such as abuse, etc. That crosses the boundaries of FFB and BT, that we look at external instead of internal frumkeit. Yet, if a BT’s child has to deal with an abusive parent and doesn’t have an understanding bubby or zaidy or aunt to mitigate that crisis, the crisis becomes all the worse.

  8. We can try to condition what they “want” in a positive direction. The ball is then in their court. If we leave them totally to their own devices (the other extreme), their “wants” won’t likely be too pretty.

  9. Think I have mentioned this before, like a million years ago, but: I ran a couple of these theories by a “well known kiruv professional” — someone with a long track record of bona fide accomplishments and genuine relationships that have been maintained for years and years, and also very familiar, through other channels, of kids who go OTD.

    His comment: “These are all just excuses. Some people just want to do what feels good. It’s a personal decision and they’re going to do what they want.”

    On reflection, he may be right, without having made the discussion irrelevant. Well, why do some people want to do that? As so many people in this discussion have said, there are lots of factors that can affect the gravitational pull in any of the competing directions.

  10. A hundred twenty years ago, if Yankeleh in the shtetl had no zitzfleish to study all day, Yankeleh’s father would apprentice him to some tradesman to learn a trade. Alternatively, Yankeleh’s father would marry him off to the daughter of a businessman with no sons, so that the “shver” could train him to eventually take over the business. Or Yankeleh’s father bought him a “shiffs carte,” a ship ticket, one way to the New World.

    We need to accept our kids for what they are and not what we want to force them to be. Or as one therapist pointed out: “You are trying to take wool from a cow. Why not take the milk?”

  11. IMHO, I think we need to create more “soft landings” for off-the-derech kids. They can’t or won’t fit into our lifestyle, but that shouldn’t mean they have to wind up as drug addicts or convicts. Give them vocational training, life skills and keep the channels of communication open.

  12. Sometimes the child has too much of what we think they need and not enough of what they need or think they need. I’m not talking about OTD behavior. I’m talking about a hobby, sport or some other kosher outlet.

  13. It’s not only the student’s environment (family, community, and school); it’s the student’s own personality traits, too. If the environment ignores the student’s traits and tries to treat all exactly the same, that could start or aggravate problems.

  14. Farak Margolese, the author of the only web based study at OTD, found that the keys to understanding OTD behavior were family, community and school.

  15. Agreed.
    I know pleny of FFBs with kids at-risk and I know just as many BTs with kids at-risk.

    Based on what you wrote, we (the frum community) has a mission to provide what the child isn’t getting.

    I totally here what people say on this tread about BTs being more ridgid/demanding about mitzvah performance. I look at the families I know who’s kids (now teens/college age/young singles) turned out ok and see a pattern that I’ve tried to adopt:
    Let kids find individuality with an expected norm of behavior.

    Exmaple: Our son will be a Bar Mitzvah next year (parshas Noach) and we’ve been telling he for a while that even though I wear a hat on Shabbos, the choice is his. If he understands the reasons WHY some people wear hats and makes the choice to wear one, cool. If he decides not to wear one, also cool. He know that he is expected to cover his head with something (like he’s been doing since before he was two yrs old). He understands that the length of peyos, and the color of one’s shirt doesn’t make one closer to Hashem.

    Whatever direction AJOP chooses to go with the future of kiruv, there needs to be a push from within yeshivos and shuls.
    Regardless of what you feel about people having TVs in their homes, the fact that it was made into an issue and constantly spoken and written about only added to the popularity of people not having TVs.

    If our community leaders were to constantly hammer the idea that, as you wrote, children are “not getting positive physical, intellectual and emotional experiences from not-at-risk behavior, like his learning, davening, mitzvos performance and middos enhancement” then there would be a global change.

  16. I think a child engages in at-risk behavior because he’s not getting positive physical, intellectual and emotional experiences from not-at-risk behavior, like his learning, davening, mitzvos performance and middos enhancement. At-risk behavior provides physical and emotional experiences that are more enjoyable.

  17. Sorry to have come into this tread late, but it’s been interesting reading, espeically the link to R Haber’s article (since I will be spending a Shabbos with him in two weeks at the Mussar Institute’s “Mussar Kallah” outside Chicago).

    Mark quoted:
    Conclusions and recommendations will initiate serious discussion about the direction and needs for the future of the Kiruv movement.

    It has been an ongoing theme, especially over the past few years at the AJOP conventions (based on communcations and published articles by R Y Lowenbraun) that there’s a need to for kirvu professionals to gravitate towards “in-reach” within shuls, in regard to strenthening adults and spreading a tangible passion for yiddishkeit (like the mission of the AishDas Society).

    However, getting FFB adults more inspired is a hard sell. Preventing the “At-Risk” issue is a better selling point for “the future of kiruv movement.”

    Maybe the study will show that it really doesn’t make a difference if the parents are BTs or FFB and that the lack of living an adult life of being inspirired is one of the key factors in teens become “at-risk”.

    Being “at-risk” isn’t a new thing, just like substance abuse among frum teens isn’t new. Christans and Catholics have been dealing with it for a long time, too. Using their studies would actually be helpful.

    The question is, “Why does a child engage in at-risk behavior?”

  18. Judy,

    In general, have our lifestyle options been narrowed in recent years, such that previously OK careers and interests became “bad for shidduchim”? Back in that shtetl, I don’t think all males outside full-time learning were thought of as second-class citizens.

  19. There were always individuals who “dropped out” from religious observance, whether it was the maskilim, or the Yevzeksia, or those who left their frumkeit back in the shtetl when they came to the Goldene Medina. The usual seductions were money, power and freedom. The difference now is that Jewish kids are doing things like illegal drugs that can get them killed.

    We may need as a community to develop “soft landings” for those of our youth who don’t want to be rigidly chained to our lifestyles, to help them obtain vocational training, maybe open up their own businesses, let them find alternative but decent, law-abiding paths.

  20. IMO, Shades of Gray’s comments re Azrieli are 100% on the mark, and the suggestion is very worthwhile, on the proviso that it isn’t intended to downplay either legitimate research or pressure a renowned specialist into burying his head in the sand.

  21. “and we’re now pursuing other avenues of preventing BTs from taking an undue hit”

    Why not meet with or have people communicate their concerns to the pople at AJOP/Azrieli? They are responsible people and not intereted in making BT’s look bad, especially since AJOP is in kiruv(the OU Marriage survey in the Jewish Action which had a paragraph focusing on Baalie Teshuvah, was no more negative than the articles by R. Karlinksy or R. Haber in the Jewish Action).

    By the way, one can focus on other groups as well. A study about the effects of poverty due to ideological reasons or due to over-insularity(as in R. Dr. Aron Hirsch Fried’s article in Hakirah), or the opposite, the negative effects of modernity and secular culture as causing teens at risk, would also target some communities more than others. Nevertheless, if you want to examine causes, I think you need to ask the questions in a survey, fairly and professionally.

    What to do next is something else–just as you don’t destroy the Kolell system(Jonathan Rosenblum wrote in the article I linked that, “if, for instance, poverty is a major cause of alienation from the Torah world, there is not much to be done in the short-run”)neither should anyone negate kiruv, but instead try to make positive adjustments to alleviate any possible risk factors.

  22. I have the greatest respect for Rabbi Horowitz, but don’t see how much we can stack the deck in the short time before the report comes out. Moreover, if the report has important observations or conclusions that we didn’t anticipate, our preemptive strike could become embarrassing.

  23. I spoke to Rabbi Horowitz today about this and he basically agrees that based on his experience the number one determinant is how the teen is doing in school. There are very very few “A” student kids at risks.

    After the number one factor of school performance, bad parenting plays a role. He feels that BT parents are as good as the FFB populace in general, but they lack a Frum network to help deal with issues and sometimes their dedication to Torah and mitzvos observance gives them a perspective which might work adversely with a kid who is not doing well in school or in mitzvot observance.

    He thinks it makes sense to try to control the potential damage of affirming a false premise by talking about this before the report is issued and we’re now pursuing other avenues of preventing BTs from taking an undue hit.

    Thank G-d that Rabbi Horowitz is a proactive voice for BTs, is Roeh es HaNolad (can see potential future developments) and doesn’t advocate a wake me up after the convention approach.

  24. Mark Frankel wrote:

    “Although bad BT parenting is a factor and it could be the primary factor in some cases, I think there are larger communal factors such as inability to adequately validate, appreciate, educate and motivate kids who don’t fit an ideal school profile.”

    WADR, this is true, every fall, every yeshiva and girls school worthy of the name has an open house for prospective students and their parents. One has to attend the same with one’s eyes and ears wide open to discern whether the school is right for your child, considering his or her academic level, emotional level, and the hashkafa, image and expectations that parents think the school presents. Like it or not, schools don’t have a monopoly and if your kids aren’t happy at school A, it is hard to believe that a better fit at School A doesn’t exits, especially in major MO and Charedi areas. While the school is essentially selling its brand of Chinuch as a product, we all have the individual duty of due diligence as parents to see what is in the best interest of our children-a process that no RY, rav, rebbitzen or rebbe can do for you. That being said, there is no written guide to the same other than conversations with other parents. If BTs are truly integrated into a community,acessing this important source of information has to be strongly encouraged.

  25. Bob, you’re missing the point again. If I have the time and motivation I’ll try later to explain it in a different way later.

  26. Mark, my point is that to add to the constructive dialogue we need new information. Here we have new information about to be issued so what do we do? Second guess something we haven’t seen? I’d say wait for it and then see what it says.

  27. Bob, again I respect your right to not participate and I’ll have no complaints if you don’t add another comment here.

    I’ve think that there’s importance discussing topics again and again because if you listen to what people are saying you get deeper insight into the topic. If you don’t feel you get anything by hearing topics discussed in different ways, by different people with different nuances then I can understand why you would using a conversation stopping term like “spinning our wheels”.

    Group victimization of BTs is a reality which doesn’t mean that it effects every person or occurs to the same degree in every community. If it’s not a problem you’ve faced, great, but here at BBT we feel that it needs more awareness and more, not less, talk about possible solutions. Unsolved problems only get solved when they get attention and are discussed and worked on.

    The reason it’s important to discuss the topic now is that one aspect of research bias is that research is used to confirm previously held hypothesis. Although bad BT parenting is a factor and it could be the primary factor in some cases, I think there are larger communal factors such as inability to adequately validate, appreciate, educate and motivate kids who don’t fit an ideal school profile. The unstated hypothesis that the research will confirm is that bad BT parenting is the major factor. That’s why it’s important to have this discussion now.

  28. we are indeed spinning our wheels here. Since whatever this discussion includes (which ironically is not the new report’s actual content!!!) is standard Beyond BT stuff from way back, what purpose does it really serve? Venting again about group victimization and unsolved problems, or the solution of problems? If it’s solution, we ought wait to see what the new report says, just maybe.

  29. I definitely believe that BTs in percentage terms have a disproportionate number of Kids at Risk compared to the greater frum community. I also think that an extremely disproportionate number of Kids at Risk don’t fit the mold or don’t do so well in school. There are very few “A” track kids at risk.

    My solution is to move our communities in the direction on validating, appreciating and unconditionally loving kids and BTs who don’t fit the mold or have significant knowledge gaps.

    The AJOP blurb spoke about the issue of community integration but my experience says this will be focused more on teaching BTs how to fit the mold, than suggesting that the mold needs to be modified.

  30. I once heard Dr. Pelcovitz speak on the topic of relating better to your teens, and he said that BT parents have a much harder time with it, since they adhere to mitzvos so strictly, and it’s impossible for them to place themselves in the mind of the FFBs (especially their own kids) who are more מצות אנשים מלומדה. So if that’s the case, then yes, there’s sadly a greater chance that teens of BTs will be more at risk.

  31. Mark-WADR-the key IMO is as follows:

    “Conclusions and recommendations will initiate serious discussion about the direction and needs for the future of the Kiruv movement.”

    Perhaps, the kiruv professionals may take it on the chin for not following through on your suggestions. I think that the key is the “direction and needs for the future of the Kiruv movement”, as opposed to anyone remotely suggesting that kiruv Chas VeShalom, be scrapped as a communal priority. We may well see some serious discussions, but I wouild seriously doubt that kiruv is in trouble unless AJOP views any challenge to the ways that it operates as beyond the pale for discussion.

    I think that all parents know that there are no guarantees in Chinuch and child rearing, other than tears, Tehilim, and Mazel. While everyone needs a mentor at some point in gtheir journey, eventually, as adults, we all have to make decisions, even ones that we might regret down the road, and which you may roundly criticized for by a variety of people.

  32. “Conclusions and recommendations will initiate serious discussion about the direction and needs for the future of the Kiruv movement.”

    From one perspective, if there is some negative fallout due to some children of BT not succeeding, those who set the direction of the Kiruv movement should be discussing it and dealing with it, because then kiruv also harms the frum world, as it were, by increasing the dropout population. Ie, say kiruv is 90% good, but there is a 10% risk factor the way things stand now, then AJOP is correct for bringing it up and trying to make adjustments.

    FWIW, this is an excerpt of an article by Jonathan Rosenblum(Mishpacha, 2008) on the drop-out issue and causes –he is in favor of getting data(see link); I’d be interested to see his take on the AJOP study once it is published(” Yet it remains crucial to get some hard data, based on high quality research, to understand the interrelationship of different factors, and which ones are most prevalent”).


  33. For those interested, here’s the rest of the email from AJOP:

    A well conducted scientific survey is one of the best tools to help us know what the problems are and how to respond. Some interesting conclusions point to parenting styles, the best age for outreach to these individuals, and community integration. Conclusions and recommendations will initiate serious discussion about the direction and needs for the future of the Kiruv movement.

    Results of this study will be announced for the first time at the upcoming AJOP International Convention on Sunday January 15, 2012 in Stamford, CT by Dr David Pelcovitz.

    That’s why I’m quite sure that BTs are going to take it on the chin with this one. It’s the beginning of the descent from 2nd class citizens to 3rd class citizens.

  34. A couple of comments/questions for the group here:

    1. Do people at least anecdotally see more children of BTs than non-BTs going off the derech or at least being classified as “at risk?” I would be surprised, but I don’t have a sense of this because my children are younger and also I am in a community where I wouldn’t necessarily know who is a BT without getting to know the person as an individual. It’s not really the place for it, but I can think of some ways where I would think the children of BTs have an advantage over others (of course I can think of some ways where children of FFBs have an advantage).

    2. Is it fair to compare BTs as a group with FFBs as a group, since the average BT probably aspires to be an average community member (I mean both the aspiration and the designation of ‘average community member’ as positive things), whereas if you look at the FFBs as a group, the curve is going to be skewed by roshei yeshiva and the like. I can say that if you did the comparison in my shul, the FFBs would have an unfair advantage because of the extraodinary personality traits, combined with exceptional knowledge of Torah, of the Rav and his assistant rabbi (both of them are FFBs).

  35. An interesting perspective to discuss prior to the survey’s release would be: assuming they will conclude that BT families have a higher representation of “kids at risk” and OTD, will the conclusion be that being BT causes the problem (because of inherent problems such as lack of role models, lack of knowing how to navigate the protectzia, etc) or whether the lack of acceptance of BTs by the community -subtle or outright – causes the problem. This makes a big difference in terms of remedies of where to focus our energies – ourselves in isolation, or the community at large.

  36. Mark Frankel wrote:

    “I think BT’s are going to take another hit with this survey and I think a greater part of the blame of the Kids at Risk issue goes to the overall community which struggles greatly with dealing with teens who are not in the top tiers in learning Torah, davening and performance of mitzvos”

    Yet, these issues are present across the hashkafic board, and IMO are communal issues that should never be viewed as a BT’s unique burden. Perhaps, the need is to address unrealistic expectations such as who should be learning full time for a long period of time, and how and why boys are exposed to Talmud. Perhaps, instead of viewing our schools as training grounds for Kollelim, we should be stressing having a working knowledge of Talmud, Halacha,Chumash and Nach with the classical mfarshim, gaining an understanding of the Siddur and Machzor and the wonderful Hashkafic lessons therein, realizing that while we are all commanded to fulfil the 613 Taryag mitzvos, some of us will excell in certain areas, and others in different areas. Rambam at the end of Makos points out that everyone can and must find one mitzvah that is their raison de etre. These issues strike me IMO as issues that BTs can bring a unique perspective.

  37. Ron-I have no reluctance to discussing the issues. However, speculating, predicting or worrying about the study strikes me IMO as problematic. The issues that Mark Frankel outlined have existed for decades, and in many ways, all are subsets of what we have been describing as related to integration- which depends largely on how and where a BT lives, his or her role models, and how their children become part of the Torah observant world. Bob Miller is correct-anyone with any knowledge of the Torah observant world can tell you that certain communities, both Charedi and MO, are more hospitable than others to BTs. IMO, we can and should be able to easily identify the same without fretting about a yet to be published study.

  38. I guess those would be problems regardless of whether the article had already come out or not.

    You are right that we can’t have an intelligent discussion about the article itself. But I do think we can have and are having a fairly intelligent discussion about the topic of the article. Admin’s framing of the question was just meant as a springboard, I would say.

    And now that I think about it, I’ll say more.

    Mark’s concerns, as expressed above, seem to be along the lines that he anticipates a “hit job” that is not unrelated to festering ideological issues, not unlike the supposed concern about “flipping” which is mainly veiled criticism of the RW way of life. If I am reading him right, therefore, it is not so unreasonable for him to sound a warning along those lines.

    If the report does not turn out that way, he may be a little red in the face. You might well say that well, what are the chances that he would admit that the report in fact did not turn out that way, if, objectively, it didn’t?

    In Mark’s case? 100%.

  39. IIRC, the possible issues raised by Mark Frankel were discussed in an article in Jewish Action by R Y Haber ( the R Haber who used to work for the OU).

  40. Look at it this way-how can anyone here offer an intelligent opinion about the study and its conclusions, let alone its ramifications and consequences, without having read the document prior to voicing an opinion?

  41. How about Recilus, Lashon Hara or Motzie Shem Ra about a document and its conclusions that noone has seen or read yet? Is there some sort of heter based on Toeles for the same? Aren’t there other issues that would generate a far more productive conversation for the readership here?

  42. Shades of Grey, you’re an excellent researcher, so I’m sure you can come up with a lot of information on the problem of studies in general. For starters Google around for the controversies surrounding the 2000 Jewish Population Study. Soft science studies always have tremendous bias issues including how you set categories and how you ask questions on your research. Even a definition of a Kid at Risk has to make a certain amount of assumptions. That doesn’t mean they don’t have value, but every study has to begin with a semi-skeptical approach when reading it.

    Steve, what halacha do you think we’re violating?

    Ron, I wholeheartedly agree that adaptation to subculture or integration is one of the most difficult problems facing BTs.

  43. Just curious-isn’t speculating , predicting or worrying about a yet to be published study, and even possibly halachically problematic?

  44. Excellent comments. I think everyone here, at least, will agree that merely saying “oh, look, BT’s have this problem” is to say nothing, because “BT’s” are not a homogeneous grouping along any number of axes. Moreover, all things being equal (ha), when you are looking at a phenomenon — what my kids all “off the D” — that is axiomatically present only in the orthodox world, it is almost impossible for there not to be over-representation of BT’s, who are even under the best of circumstances experiencing on an ongoing basis the stress of adaptation to a subculture that “native” members are simply never going to have.


  45. I would be interested in seeing the survey, but not from a POV as how BTs can spin the same,but rather what suggestions the entire Torah community, FFBs and BTs can learn from the survey, and what responses should be undertaken. IMO, it would be a mistake for “kiruv professionals” and/or advocates for kiruv to urge a collective battening down of the hatches and riding out the contents of the study as opposed to a healthy discussion and airing of the issues. After all, Meat Or Doche Harbeh Choshech.

  46. I can imagine situations where a community’s coldness to BTs would cause at-risk type problems in a BT family living there.

    BTs need to think twice about moving into or continuing to live in such a community.

  47. I would imagine that the survey would phrase their findings with appropriate care(the OU Marriage Survey in 2009, which Dr. Pelcovits was also involved in, did the same when it discussed a similar topic, “But a word of caution is in order: In large samples, even small differences can be statistically significant…however, the implications are nonetheless important”).

    In general, I would relate this survey to the question raised in the recent “Klal Perpectives” publication regarding empirical data and the Torah community-is it helpful for those in leadership and chinuch to have it, and if yes, how do you go about getting it and disseminating it?

  48. Mark I agree with you; I see a lot of adult FFBs testing the parameters, whether with dress, recreation, etc, it’s almost a culture of pre-OTD behavior. So it doesn’t surprise me if the blame for OTD gets shifted to BT’s and off the trends in the FFB world–it’s hard to look straight in the mirror. That being said, we are also still struggling mightily to keep any responsibility for OTD away from yeshivas. BT’s are a good target, who will defend them?

    Also, regarding teens not in the top tiers I think we do kids a disservice by lumping them into categories of poor performers; these kids are complex individuals each with their own talents and strengths, and the schools must look at them as individuals. They are neither ALL delinquent, nor ALL incapable of higher learning, nor ALL suffering low self-esteem, etc. The problem is the cookie-cutter mold.

  49. Bob, you’re more then welcome to wait for the results.

    Personally I think it’s worth talking about now.

    I believe that Dr. Pelcovitz, AJOP and all those involved in outreach are concerned about BTs, but thousands of comments, emails and conversations inform me that they don’t always successfully serve a pre or post BT’s best interest. The basic reason is that everybody has a perspective that informs their view and a BT and a non-BT are coming and a problem from significantly different perspectives. I’ve even seen many BTs who become Kiruv professionals lose their “BT Perspective”.

    I think BT’s are going to take another hit with this survey and I think a greater part of the blame of the Kids at Risk issue goes to the overall community which struggles greatly with dealing with teens who are not in the top tiers in learning Torah, davening and performance of mitzvos.

    By starting the conversation now, we can be more active participants when the blame is allocated and the solutions proposed.

  50. I don’t agree that the study will show that a disproportionate number of teens at risk have BT parents. My own belief, and I am not a professional in this area, is that a disproportionate number of teens at risk have undiagnosed learning and cognitive disabilities, ADHD and bipolar disorder, causing poor academic performance and low self-esteem, not to mention making them targets for constant criticism from teachers and parents.

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