Israel’s record in child safety, for many years unenviable, has improved
somewhat, with a general ranking of 12 of 24 OECD countries in Europe, compared
to its previous ranking of 15. However, it had a “very low rating” and was below
the European average when judged on safety in the home.
announced by Beterem – the National Center for Child Safety and Health and the
Health Ministry at a press conference on Tuesday.
A total of 376 Israeli
children died in mostly preventible accidents between publication of the
previous reports in 2009 and 2011. During the first five months of this year, 54
children died in accidents, compared to 39 cases during the same period in
Much of the credit for the improved rating goes to Beterem, which
is based at Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva and works throughout the country
to promote child safety in the home, neighborhood, public places and on the
Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman said he was pleased by the
“Responsibility for the safety of our children must be
the highest national priority, but unfortunately, the vast majority [of
accidents] can be prevented by alertness and taking care of children –
especially during the summer months and school vacation that we face,” said
The report, he continued, reflected the urgent need to promote
the national plan for promoting child safety that the minister prepared with
Beterem earlier this year, which was approved by the cabinet in
Child deaths in accidents are a global problem. Every day,
2,000 children under the age of 18 are killed. It is a problem primarily in the
Western world; in Europe alone, 10,000 children die from accidents in an average
year. In Israel, a child dies by accident every two-and-ahalf days, said Prof.
Arnon Afek, head of the ministry’s medical administration. A little more than
half of the deaths are due to road accidents, but other causes are home and
leisure accidents such as burns, choking, falls, unintentional poisoning and
Beterem director Orly Silbinger said that while the latest
statistics are welcome in general, much needs to done to prevent more children
from dying. The gap will shrink only if existing laws are enforced, new laws are
passed, parents and caregivers are more careful at home, and information and
education campaigns are boosted, she added.
The rankings are a special
project of the World Health Organization, UNICEF and research
The countries are rated according to safety in vehicles, as
pedestrians, on bicycles, in the water and in prevention of falls, burns,
poisoning, choking and similar dangers. Out of a maximum of 60 points, Israel
received 38 points in child safety compared to 31.5 three years ago. Out of five
possible points for home safety, Israel received only one point, while the
European average was two or three points.
Enforcement of laws to protect
child safety is weak in Israel, with the lowest socioeconomic groups suffering
the most, officials said. But the cost of special safety equipment to prevent
harm to children is relatively inexpensive here in comparison to Europe.