On Monday, October 24, Central welcomed Rahel Bayar, lawyer and CEO of the Bayar Group, to discuss a crucial topic with all four classes: boundaries and consent. Bayar brought her experience as a former sex crimes and child abuse prosecutor to an honest and direct conversation about safe spaces and how Central students can protect themselves, and one another, in the larger world.
The conversation addressed several issues: physical assault, cyberbullying and consent, the concept of bystander intervention on social media, and what recourse young people have to protect themselves against the threat of sexting and sextortion online. She defined mutual consent as “affirmative, conscious, and voluntary,” and illustrated how ethical consent is impossible in cases in which power imbalances and psychological vulnerability exist.
At the heart of these issues was the concept of power – often a difficult discussion to broach. Bayar addressed these issues directly, with honesty, humor, and warmth. “She used tactics that were relatable to high school students to address the stigma around teens setting up boundaries in their everyday life,” said junior Samantha Burger. Junior Gitty Kahn agreed. “Rahel Bayar perfectly balanced discussing the very serious topic of establishing safe boundaries in person and over the Internet, with humor and in-person examples of uncomfortable situations,” she said. “Her background as a prosecutor allowed her to bring a New York law perspective into why we, as teenage girls, need to keep safe boundaries and what to do if the boundaries we set are violated.” Bayar emphasized the importance of communication, particularly in the frum community, and how a sense of trust and open dialogue can keep young people safe.
Junior Lois Rifkin seconded the crucial nature of such programming. “I learned that, if I am ever in trouble, I should ask an adult for help right away. This presentation inspired me to be extra careful when it comes to posting on social media.”
In a powerful concluding activity, students were organized into breakout groups and encouraged by a guiding faculty member to talk to one another about these issues. The exchanges that resulted were made easier by Bayar’s presentation. Junior Leah Kalantarov said, “I think that especially in the Jewish community, where a topic like this is not talked about as much, it’s important for us to learn more about boundaries. Just becoming more educated on these topics can help me and the other girls at Central.”
Junior Tani Fish followed: “I learned so much information that I wouldn’t have been able to discover if it weren’t for this program. As a community, we feel that we won’t ever have an encounter like this. However, that is not the case. This can happen to anybody.” Junior Sydney Gejerman stressed how meaningful it was to discuss potential sources of help: “No one’s alone,” she said.