‘Protecting children as individuals comes first and foremost’

The committee called for increased cooperation between all relevant public services – including, health, education, welfare and police – in order to grant full access to information about a child at

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January 29, 2017 19:59
3 minute read.
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A MDA ambulance on the scene of a suspected murder-suicide in Acre. (photo credit: MDA)

 
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“Children are human beings in their own right. They are not the property of their parents, and so their protection as individuals comes first and foremost,” Mira Karni, a social worker and head of the Public Inquiries Department at the National Council for the Child, said on Sunday.

She spoke to The Jerusalem Post after reports that a husband and father allegedly murdered his wife, two children and a neighbor’s child in his house in the northern town of Migdal over the weekend.

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“The month of January is an unusual and horrifying month,” said Karni. “I pray and hope that this is unequivocally not a rising trend.”

Since the beginning of 2017, eight children have already been murdered by a parent – four children by their mother in Jerusalem, one child by his mother in Acre, and now three children in Migdal.

“From the data that we are able to collect from past years this is very unusual,” stressed Karni. “The past two years have been relatively quiet.

“I hope that as a society we will do the maximum possible to ensure that these incidents won’t happen again,” she said.

“We might not be able to prevent this 100% but there are things that we as a society can do to prevent this [phenomenon].”



Karni called to the implement the recommendations of the Vinter Committee to identify children at risk, which has been delayed due to disputes between government agencies.

The Vinter Committee, headed by then Welfare and Social Service Ministry’s deputy director-general, Moti Vinter, released its recommendations in 2010, among which included the need to identify children whose parents were going through a difficult divorce or were considered high-risk due to conflict between their parents or due to parents’ mental state.

The committee called for increased cooperation between all relevant public services – including, health, education, welfare and police – in order to grant full access to information about a child at risk.

The interministerial committee was established following the murder of a four-year-old girl by her grandfather in 2008.

“So long as the departments will collaborate more there will be a higher chance of preventing future incidents such as this,” she said. “Every child we are able to save is an entire world unto his or herself.”

Karni stressed that the public should not hesitate to turn to relevant authorities when there is suspicion that harm may come to a child.

“If there is doubt, then there is no doubt that you should turn to relevant authorities – they have the know-how to differentiate and identify serious and life threatening cases,” she said. “If the environment that knows the parents turns to the welfare departments or police it can maybe help prevent another incident like this.”

Karni called on the media not to show “empathy” for the murdering parent in its reports.

“Sometimes there are reports that show empathy toward the murdering parent because they were depressed or felt isolated,” she said. “It is important to be clear that this is very terrible, wrong and absolutely forbidden.”

Karni said this can have an influence on other parents who might be contemplating the same thing, resulting in copycat murders.

She also emphasized the importance of parents speaking to their children, who might have been exposed to news of these incidents at school or through the news.

“Parents should stress that this is a tremendously rare and extreme incident and reassure their children that they are loved and safe and that they will protect them,” Karni said.

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