Labor's Hilu proposes mandatory parenting classes for new parents

Only two MKs attend special session on children's welfare called in wake of Rose case.

Nadia Hilu 224.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Nadia Hilu 224.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Although the committee room was packed for MK Nadia Hilu's (Labor) emergency hearing in the wake of the search for missing four-year-old Rose Pizem, one key group was conspicuously missing from the Monday debate - Hilu's fellow MKs. In fact, not a single member of the Knesset's Committee on the Rights of the Child other than Hilu herself and MK Ze'ev Elkin (Kadima) attended the special session held in the midst of the summer recess. Hilu, who worked for years as a social worker, announced during the meeting that she was submitting a bill proposal to establish mandatory parenting education courses at the occasion of a first child's birth. "If someone wants to be a chef today, they take a course, if they want to work in computers, they take a course. So why shouldn't people take a course in order to learn how to be better parents?" explained Hilu. Hilu hinted that she might go so far as to place "sanctions" on parents who did not participate in such a course, including the possibility of suspending payments of the "birth grant," a sum issued by the National Insurance Institute upon the birth of each child. Representatives from both the police and the Welfare and Social Services Ministry sought to provide explanations as to how Rose's case could fall through the cracks, going unnoticed until it was too late for the young girl. One of the issues raised by members of the ministry was the difficulty of oversight involving children transferred from Israel to foreign countries and vice versa. Before the French High Court at Versailles awarded custody of Rose to her mother Marie, in Israel, French authorities did not contact Israeli social workers to assess the environment in which Rose would be placed. Dr. Yitzhak Kadman, the Executive Director of The National Council for the Child, added that Israel now faces "an enormous problem of children being brought back and forth from country to country," a problem that he says has increased drastically since visas are no longer required for entrance from Russia. Children, he said, can be brought into and taken out of Israel by adults who are not their parents. Kadman said that in extreme cases, his organization had even seen cases in which children were "imported" to Israel by an adult for what he described as "sexual purposes." Kadman emphasized that annually, on average, between five and six children are killed in Israel by their parents, although he noted that plea bargains often result in the guilty parents being convicted of lesser charges, such as manslaughter.