NGO report paints grim picture of state of children in Israel

"There are too many hardships and too few responses in education, welfare, health, law enforcement and the protection of children."

January 16, 2017 22:45
2 minute read.

Children walking to school. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Policy makers should lose sleep over the grim findings of the 2016 State of the Child report, Vered Vindman, director-general of the National Council for the Child said on Monday.

Vindman presented the report, which presents an overview across all aspects of the life of children in Israel to President Reuven Rivlin and his wife, Nechama.

“The rate of poor children is still inconceivable, the gaps between children are still significant and outrageous, the huge number of children going to the emergency room has not decreased, the number of children at risk and abuse victims did not decrease," she said.

"There are too many hardships and too few responses in education, welfare, health, law enforcement and the protection of children," she added.

According to the report at the end of 2015 there were some 2,768,700 children living in Israel accounting for 33% of the population.

Of these, some 70% are Jewish, some 23% are Muslim, 1.5% are Christians, 1.6% are Druze, and some 3% are unaffiliated.

"A third of Israel's citizens are children," Rivlin said. "This is an incomprehensible number for a young and innovative country whose future is still ahead of her."

Rivlin said that the child population constitutes "a mirror of Israeli society."

"I believe that children are our future. If we do not provide our children emotional and material, educational and legal resources and serve to protect and support them - our future will be shrouded in uncertainty,” the president said.

Rivlin marveled at the fact that some 83% of children have smartphones.

With regards to the use of technology, the report found that of these children roughly a fourth use their smartphones for more than 5 hours per day. 

Furthermore, the report found that 30% of pupils in 6th, 8th, and 10th grades watch around four hours of television per day.

As such, 86% of Israeli youth aged 12-17 speak with their friends digitally, while 63% communicate digitally with their parents.

"Today's children are sophisticated and quick to learn," he said. "At the same time they are also weak and vulnerable.”

The president noted a disturbing statistic, which found that 839,377 children were living in poverty in Israel and that some 10% of these children go to bed hungry.

“A hungry child will grow up to be an adult that lives under stress, fear and even in distress," he said.

"This report sends us to work, to do," Rivlin said. "We need to stop the trend of poverty, to fight crime, to increase volunteerism and community involvement, and open more avenues for enrichment and excellence."

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