Reports of child abuse in Israel have steadily grown over the past three years,
as the number of reported cases in the US is decreasing, according to recent
data the Jerusalem-based Haruv Institute collected and provided to The Jerusalem
Post this week.
The data presented by the institute, which not only
researches the phenomenon but also provides training to professionals working in
the medical, educational and community fields, shows that in Israel in 2010 the
number of reported child abuse cases was 18.9 for every 1,000 children, compared
to 8.7 for every 1,000 children in 1995. The US figures for 2010 were 10 reports
for every 1,000 children, compared to 14.7 reports for every 1,000 children in
While part of the rise in reporting of child abuse cases in Israel
stems from greater awareness among professionals and society as to what
constitutes abuse and how to report it, Haruv Institute director
Prof. Asher Ben-Arieh said it has more to do with an alarming increase in
violence throughout Israeli society in general.
“We are definitely a much
more violent society than ever before,” said Ben-Arieh, who before being
appointed director of Haruv late last year worked as associate director at the
National Council for the Child.
The figures for Israel are based on data
collected by the NCC and Haruv from child protection officers and social
The US data comes from official sources, as well as professional
surveys by researcher David Finkelhor.
Ben-Arieh, who has been
researching and writing about cases of child abuse for many years, said that
violence levels in society, especially those related to violence against
children, are often connected to poverty and economic worries among other
He said research shows that when parents are stressed about money
issues, they typically have less patience and shorter fuses when dealing with
their children. Israel’s poverty levels have steadily grown since the onset of
the global economic crisis in 2008 and the most recent figures from the National
Insurance Institute show that more than 433,000 families lived below the poverty
line in 2010. Within that number, some 837,300 children were considered poor;
additional data from the Ministry of Welfare and Social Services shows that an
estimated 150,000 children are considered at-risk.
Asked whether the
reported child abuse cases were mild or severe, Ben-Arieh said that based on the
data alone it was extremely hard to determine whether cases being dealt with by
social workers involved extreme violence, sexual abuse or negligence by
Since taking over at the institute last last year, Ben-Arieh has
focused on raising awareness from the ground up, including providing hands-on
training for professionals such as teachers, doctors and educators on how to
detect signs of child abuse and how to work with child victims of abuse. Among
the programs recently initiated by the institute is a homogenous training
program led by community social workers to counsel all members of a family in
which abuse has occurred.
The Haruv Institute was founded five years ago
by the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation with the goal of becoming
a world center for advanced research in the field of child abuse within the
family in Israel. The institute works very closely with the Ministries of
Welfare and Social Services, Education and Health.