A unique, one-stop shop for helpless youngsters

A 4,000-square-meter campus on Jerusalem’s Mount Scopus has opened to integrate all services imaginable for abused children. Professionals and private donors have made it happen.

January 15, 2017 05:47
Teen depression

Teen depression. (photo credit: INGIMAGE)


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Israel is known to be a very child-oriented society, but that doesn’t prevent child abuse from being prevalent in every sector. Thus it was a welcome occasion when the ultramodern Haruv Children’s Campus – unlike anything in the world – was established on Jerusalem’s Mount Scopus last week as a “one-stop shop” for abused children.

Two no-longer-used buildings that were part of the Hebrew University’s Resnick dormitories have, with $12 million in private donations, been extensively renovated and equipped to create the campus.

The 4,000 square meters of facilities, each linked to an inviting, open courtyard with playground equipment and greenery, bring together a variety of institutions that had operated separately in various places in the capital.

These include the Emergency Center for Children (Sukkat Shalom); the Advocacy Center for Children (Beit Lynn); a treatment clinic for child victims of sexual assault (Meital); treatment services for abused children with disabilies (Shekel); the National Council for the Child; the Jerusalem branch of the Israel Center for Medical Simulation (MSR); municipal social services for children at risk; the Goshen Initiative for training pediatricians; the Mehalev Initiative for preventing child maltreatment in Israel; medical clinics; and the Haruv Training Center.

It is unfortunate, however, that the initiative for the campus was not the government’s but of a decade-old voluntary organization, the Haruv Institute. The country’s leading training and research center in the field of child abuse and neglect, it is one of the world’s preeminent institutions in the field. Although various ministries and other official bodies make copayments for services for abused children, the funding for the campus came largely from foreign foundations and not from the Treasury.

A total of $7 million was donated by the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Foundation- Israel, $1 million from the Wohl Foundation, $2 million from the Jerusalem Municipality, $2 million from the National Insurance Institute, money from JDC-Israel, a donation from the Smorgon family in Australia and others.

LYNN SCHUSTERMAN, whose 78th birthday is at the end of this week, is an American philanthropist who cofounded with her late husband the foundation in 1987.

The family made their fortune in Tulsa, Oklahoma’s gas and oil industry and became billionaires. The Israel branch of the foundation was founded in some two decades later and established the Haruv Institute, named for the foundation’s symbol, the carob. The foundation chose a carob because of the story of an old man who was seen planting a carob tree and asked why he bothered as he would not live to taste its fruit. He replied that just as others who preceded him planted trees that he enjoyed, he would do the same for those after him.

The Tulsa-based foundation donates 75% of its proceeds to Jewish causes around the world and 25 percent to those in Oklahoma including child advocacy and promoting Jewish identify and community. Schusterman has said: “We have a profound devotion to Judaism, the Jewish people and the Jewish State. We believe that the ethics, values and lessons inherent in Judaism remain as relevant today as they have for thousands of years and that the perpetuation of the Jewish community and the State of Israel is of paramount importance for the Jewish people and for society as a whole.”

She has declared her “belief in forging communities rooted in inclusion, equality and diversity. Central to Jewish tradition is the obligation to treat all people with derech eretz (civility and humanity) and hessed (mercy and kindness). We believe that our rich diversity of backgrounds, passions and interests is a source of vitality and strength. All people should feel safe in and proud of who they are and experience a strong sense of community and connectedness.”

THE DIRECTOR of the institute, located in a former library of the Hebrew University on Mount Scopus, is Prof. Asher Ben Arieh, a long-time social worker at the Paul Baerwald School of Social Work and Social Welfare.

He occupies the Haruv Chair for the Study of Child Maltreatment at the school.

From 2007 to 2011, he headed the Joseph J. Schwartz program for training community center administrators and experts on early childhood. Ben Arieh also served as project director and editor of the Statistical Abstract-Annual State of the Child in Israel, for over 20 years. He was director-general for 22 years of the Israel Council for the Child under the longtime former head, Dr.

Yitzhak Kadman.

Ben Arieh initiated and coordinated the multi-national project “Measuring and Monitoring Children’s Well-Being” and was among the founding members of the International Society for Child Indicators (ISCI) and was elected as its first chairperson in 2005.

Six years ago, Ben Arieh was invited to head the institute. He is one of the leading international experts on social indicators, particularly as they relate to children’s wellbeing. He has written and published extensively on the politics of social policy and children’s wellbeing in Israel, and on children’s wellbeing indicators and their measurement.

The view outside his window is probably the most beautiful in Jerusalem, he said as he showed it off during an interview with The Jerusalem Post. It ranges from the Temple Mount to the entire Old City, going beyond to skyscrapers and neighborhoods westward and southward.

The Haruv Institute was established in 2007 to train professionals, paraprofessionals, researchers, parents and children on the prevention, identification, treatment and rehabilitation of abused and neglected children, and to develop and disseminate advanced professional knowledge in Israel and throughout the world, Ben Arieh said. “It’s uniqueness lies in its multi-disciplinary and comprehensive approach to child abuse and neglect, in the medical, legal, mental health, educational and social arenas.

The institute’s uniqueness lies in its multi-disciplinary and comprehensive approach to child abuse and neglect, in the medical, legal, mental health, educational and social arenas, said he director.

“The scope of its activities has grown over the years. It has expanded its collaboration with professionals in the field in Israel and internationally, and has significantly increased the scope and diversity of its training and other activities. At the same time, Haruv continues to be committed to investing significant efforts to insure further growth in these areas, while also working towards expanding the diversity of its target populations, with a particular emphasis on increasing its activity within the educational system. In this context, and as always, we welcome ideas and suggestions for additional cooperative efforts.”

THE INSTITUTE’S 111-page annual report for 2015 contains much information about annual and periodic study and training programs, conferences, seminars, projects and research and international activities.

Each project is listed with impressive details, quotes from participants, photos and how much it cost in shekels. Participants include groups of secular, religious and ultra-Orthodox (even Yiddish-speaking) haredi Jews, Arabs, Beduin, Druse, new immigrants from Ethiopia and others.

The director opened a PowerPoint presentation to show architectural drawings of the campus, on which workmen were busily employed to have much of it ready for the January 8 ceremony attended by Schusterman.

Haruv cooperates with a large number of educational, religious, social and other organizations to disseminate its knowledge.

It is a shame, therefore, that the average Israeli – and Israeli journalist – has probably never heard of the Haruv Institute, as it has not invested heavily in public relations efforts.

“The Haruv Children’s Campus is a unique, innovative enterprise designed to aggregate a variety of services for children who have been abused and neglected, under a single roof,” said Ben Arieh. “It can serve as a model for other child abuse and abuse-of-women facilities in Israel and around the world,” he added.

“This initiative will create and promote collaborations between service frameworks for abused and neglected children. This includes clinical and therapeutic services, professional training for pediatricians, psychiatrists, psychologists, lawyers, social workers, academic research and more.” The prevalence of child abuse among children with disabilities and special needs is four to five times greater than among other children; long-term hospitalization thus provides a rare opportunity to identify such children, he said.

Each year, the Haruv Institute organizes programs that educate more than 5,000 doctors, nurses, social workers, medical students, lawyers, judges, national service volunteers and even bus drivers taking children to schools about identifying abused youngsters from birth to 18. The professionals are taught in workshops, conferences and seminars offered as single-day or extended programs of several days the latest techniques for dealing with them.

“We develop high-quality training and study programs for a wide range of service providers, therapists, professionals in the field, and – in fact –anyone coming in contact with children. These programs are based on the most up-to-date knowledge, and are directed by leading Israeli and international experts,” said Ben Arieh.

“We have 20 employees, social workers, doctors, lawyers and more, and a $ 4million annual budget. We are a voluntary organization and rent the premises from the university. The children are brought here by their parents, if they were not the cause of the abuse, or by other relatives or professionals, from the entire Jerusalem metropolitan area. There is nothing like this in Israel or anywhere,” said Ben Arieh, adding that it includes a dental clinic for children on the spot.

“Many abused children have neglected teeth. They could get free basic dental care from the Health Ministry, but here it is accessible. They are treated by dental students doing their practical training who are supervised by dental school professors. The students will learn there to be sensitive to child abuse among patients. We will also open a room for occupational therapy run by students under supervision. There are also 10 social worker and law students who will learn here. I didn’t want these renovated buildings to be only real estate but to do some good.”

ONE OUT of every five Israeli children has suffered some kind of abuse at some time in their lives, said the Haruv director sadly. “It is well known that children who suffered abuse who grow up and have children are at higher risk of abusing their own,” he added.

“Professional knowledge on treating child abuse is among the best I the world here, not because there is more abuse than anywhere else but because the various professionals are interested and very good. But we are not successful enough at prevention.

We are becoming something of a chief copy of the US in dealing with child abuse – with knowhow but not accessibility. We used to be a socialized country, but now we are capitalist, with social solidary much diminished.

Children suffer from this, and the gap keeps growing. These children don’t have a voice.”

State allocations are misplaced, he declared. “If the money spent to resettle 40 families from Amona were used for this purpose, we would be able to treat for five years all children who have suffered sexual abuse in this country.”

While abuse of youngsters occurs in all sectors, including haredim who are more represented in lower socioeconomic levels, he has been impressed that this growing part of the population, now show more willingness to report incidents.

“There is less cover up by rabbis than before.”

Parents of Russian origin are today no different than those of the veteran and nativeborn Israeli population, Ben Arieh continued.

“A million came from the 1990s, so today, their children were born here or came as young children, so they got an Israeli education.”

Even education and training of professionals cannot prevent child abuse completely, he said. “There is also psychopathology that makes abusers ill. As with wife beating, one can punish and educate, but one can’t prevent all child abuse. I wish it could be wiped out,” he added with a smile. “Then I could retire.”

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