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One out of every three children in Israel lives below the poverty line, an increase of almost three percent over last year, according to figures in the annual report of the National Council for the Child.
Dr. Yitzhak Kadman presented the report on Sunday to President Moshe Katsav, emphasizing that lack of investment in the education, health, and welfare of Israel's children and youth will harm society as a whole.
Dr. Asher Ben Arieh, director of the council's research center, informed Katsav that in 2004, 2,289,900 children lived in Israel, comprising 33.3% of the population - 145,000 children were born, 72% of whom were Jewish; 192,000 children lived in single-parent households.
One out of every four children in Israel was brought to the emergency room over the course of 2004, an increase of 15.1% since 1995. Nearly half of those were children under age four. Of the patients at mental health clinics, 17.2% were children and adolescents.
Other data showed that the favorite pastime of children and adolescents is hanging out at malls and shopping centers. Books came in second. In addition, the report concluded that 60% of those aged 12-17 watch television for at least three hours every weekday.
Katsav said that the data showed a failure on the part of the state, society, and the family to protect the nation's children. "This is our most basic duty, and we must commit all possible resources to protecting our children," the president said.