New center in Nazareth to help child abuse victims in Arab, Jewish sectors

Beit Lynn center to respond to child victims of abuse in attempt to alleviate extent of trauma faced by children.

November 2, 2014 17:27
2 minute read.
Sexual Abuse

Abuse (Illustrative Photo). (photo credit: INGIMAGE / ASAP)

A center for child victims of abuse serving both Arab and Jewish children was inaugurated in Nazareth last week.

The center, Beit Lynn (“Lynn’s House”), was established to provide a quick and fitting response to child victims of abuse, in an attempt to alleviate the extent of trauma faced by children.

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The center was established as a joint project involving the Welfare and Social Services Ministry, the National Council for the Child, the Haruv Institute, the Efshar Association for the development of social education in Israel, and made possible by a donation from philanthropist Lynn Schusterman.

“The Schusterman Foundation has set a top priority to ensure the welfare of child victims of abuse and works actively to ensure that these children receive the best and most professional response,” David Gappell, director of the Schusterman Foundation – Israel, said on Sunday.

According to Gappell, the foundation hopes that in the future the Nazareth center and others like it will provide a response to child victims of abuse in the entire northern region.

To date only four such protection centers have been established – in Jerusalem, Tel Hashomer, Beersheba and Haifa – despite government promises to build eight such centers by 2011. The Nazareth center was inaugurated following a petition filed by child rights organizations to the Supreme Court arguing that the government did not uphold that promise.

Prior to the center’s opening, child victims and their families in the Nazareth region were exposed to numerous investigations and tests conducted over a long period of time and at multiple locations, some of which were not appropriate for children, such as police stations and hospitals. These processes often caused additional trauma, termed “secondary victimization.”

The protection center aims to offer holistic care by providing all the necessary services under one roof; from social workers, to child abuse investigators, children’s doctors and legal experts, avoiding causing further harm.

According to data released by the Jerusalem and Tel Hashomer protection centers, the past few years have seen a marked increase in the number of children seeking assistance.

In 2013, 524 children came to the centers for help, a rise of some 5 percent from 2012, which saw 497 children seek assistance.

The center in Nazareth aims to provide assistance to child abuse victims in the Arab sector, where victims of abuse or neglect are significantly greater than those in the Jewish population.

According to a study conducted in 2012 by Prof. Zvi Eisikovits and Prof. Rachel Lev-Weisel from the University of Haifa in collaboration with the Haruv Institute, found that more than two thirds of Arab children, 67.7%, reported having been victims of some form of abuse or neglect, in comparison to 48.5% of Jewish children.

In addition, 22.3% of Arab children reported they were victims of sexual abuse, compared to 17.6% of Jewish children.

Of these Arab children, 49.4% said they were sexually abused more than once, and two-thirds were assaulted by a family member.

“To date there has not been an adequate response in the North for abused children. I am happy that the option has been provided to also care for the Arab population thanks to the professional, elegant, and functional center for the protection of children who have been physically and sexually abused,” said Binyamin Gedalyahu, executive director of the Efshar Association.

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