A CHILD abuse victim is portrayed in this illustrative photo.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
One out of eight Israeli children has experienced some form of ongoing violence.
This was one of the conclusions of a study University of Haifa researchers presented to the Knesset Education, Culture and Sports Committee on Monday. The panel met on the last day of the 19th Knesset to discuss child victims of violence and the prevalence of reporting abuse.
“It pleases me that hours before the dispersal of the Knesset we are able to put this issue on the table and put it on the agenda; this signifies the importance and urgency of the issue,” committee chairman Amram Mitzna said at the opening of the discussion.
Prof. Zvi Eisikovits and Prof. Rachel Lev-Wiesel conducted the study over the past three years, with the participation of 10,443 children – 8,239 Jewish and 2,204 Arab – aged 11-17 from some 250 schools. The purpose was to examine the prevalence of child violence in Israel as reported directly by children.
More than half of children, 53 percent reported being victim to some form of violence – 30.5% to emotional abuse, 18.8% to sexual abuse, 18.3% to neglect, and 16.9% to physical abuse.
Of the youngsters who reported incidents of sexual violence, 46% reported being victims of repeated and ongoing sexual assaults. Of those who reported physical violence, 13.7% said they were repeatedly assaulted and would sometimes require medical care.
Of the children who reported physical neglect, 5.8% said they were deprived of basic necessities such as food, clothing and medical care.
The survey further found that 20.7% of children who were witnesses to varying forms of violence within the family reported it was ongoing.
Arab children reported more incidents of violence than Jewish children.
A fourth of children said they did not know which authority to turn to in order to report violence against them. Among the Jewish population, 63.3% of children said they would not be willing to report abuse to a social worker, compared to 56.5% of Arab children. Similarly, more than half of the Jewish children, some 55.5%, said they would not want to report abuse to a doctor or nurse, compared to 55.7% of the Arab children.
“Violence against children and youth in Israel is very common, even relative to other Western countries, especially victims of sexual abuse and neglect. It is not just children at risk, but a social problem surrounding the entire population of Israeli children,” Eisikovits said ahead of the Knesset committee hearing.
Lev-Wiesel added: “These serious findings require the government, the Knesset, and all other relevant bodies not only to discuss violence against children and adolescents but also to start acting [to prevent it].”
She called on the government to establish a national authority for the prevention and treatment of violence against children.