Governing by leadership

Addressing West Virginia Democrats last month, former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta offered a thinly veiled critique of his former boss, the president.

“In our democracy, we govern either by leadership or by crisis. If leadership is not there, make no mistake about it, we will govern by crisis and, right now, we largely govern by crisis,” said Panetta, according to Politico.

I was still thinking about Panetta’s provocative statement when I read senior writer David Holzel’s story this week (see page 11) about the Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington’s receipt of a sizable grant from the Tikkun Olam Women’s Foundation, a project of the United Jewish Endowment Fund of The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, to train both professional and lay adults in the skills needed to prevent, recognize and react to child sexual abuse.

“As uncomfortable as this subject makes us, and as much as we’d like to ignore it and hope that it never impacts us, we know it happens, and we know it happens in the Jewish community,” said Michael Feinstein, the JCC’s chief executive. “By working across organizations and with families, we can prevent child sexual abuse from happening here.”

Indeed, child sexual abuse is real and prevalent. About 400,000 children under age 18 are sexually abused in a given year – one in seven girls and one in 25 boys, according to figures from the Department of Justice. That equates to roughly 10 percent of all children under age 18.

Feinstein says the Jerry Sandusky case at Penn State University, in particular, prompted him to seek additional resources to address an issue “that has not yet been a problem for us.”

Applying Panetta’s test, that’s governing by leadership.

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