Mishmeres HaSholom: Ask the Rav

Q: In the apartment across the hall from me, there is a private playgroup taught by a woman with yiras Shamayim. But on many occasions, I see and hear conduct that, in my opinion, is inappropriate: raising her voice at a child, leaving a child alone on the porch for a few minutes as a punitive measure, ignoring a child who is crying, and more.

I don’t know what my responsibility is in such cases: Should I relay this information, and if so — to whom?

A: As a first step, the questioner should speak with the teacher herself — diplomatically and pleasantly, of course — and explain to her that there are other, more positive ways to manage the children that would satisfy all parties, by giving them attention, warmth and love. It should also be emphasized to her that the parents sending their children to her would clearly not consent to her treating them as she does. This fact in itself is reason enough to demand of her to alter her conduct.

If the questioner is not comfortable initiating such a conversation, she can convey the points in an anonymous letter, ostensibly sent by one of the mothers.

If, after all this, there is no change, it would be proper for the questioner to consult with a preschool teacher who has expertise with this age group, without revealing which playgroup she is referring to, so as to hear if the teacher’s behavior is indeed irregular and unacceptable.

If the expert teacher confirms this, then the questioner should speak to one of the mothers whom she deems appropriate to take action in the matter, and tell her about the teacher’s conduct, while being careful about the following points: a) To intend the words l’to’eles, for a constructive purpose; b) Not to exaggerate, but to say the minimum, cautiously and concisely; c) To forewarn the mother not to accept your lashon hara as the truth, but rather as basis for concern; d) To warn the mother not to pass on the information to the other mothers, for the meantime. Rather, she, herself, should speak first with the teacher.

Only if there is no improvement, will she be permitted to tell the other mothers, keeping in mind points a, b, and c above.

The questions and answers above were taken from the Mishmeres Hasholom pamphlet in Israel. For details and inquiries please e-mail us at office@hasholom.org or call 972-2 5379160.

The views expressed are of the individual author. Readers are encouraged to consult their own posek for guidance.