(photo credit: Illustrative photo: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Failure by Israeli parents to adequately discipline their children is the main
cause of juvenile delinquency, according to a new study published Wednesday by
the Meyers- JDC-Brookdale Institute in cooperation with the Welfare and Social
Services Ministry’s Youth Probation Service Planning and Research
Based on information provided by some 430 youth probation
officers, the study found that almost half (49 percent) of juvenile delinquents
referred to the officers showed a deep lack of respect for authority and
displayed minimal personal boundaries. Also, 45% had great difficulty
controlling their anger.
In addition, 44% were shown to be struggling
academically and 29% had faced difficulties staying enrolled in a formal
framework. The study also revealed that a significant number of youngsters had
problems connecting with their parents, and 26% had suffered a traumatic event
within the family.
Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog said
in a statement Wednesday that the key to successfully rehabilitating this
troubled group of youths was by “strengthening the entire family unit and
encouraging parental responsibility.”
“Parents have a significant role in
preventing their children from breaking the law,” he stated, adding, “In recent
years, the office’s policy has been to focus on treatment for the entire family,
with an emphasis on strengthening the unit and improving relations between
parents and their children.”
According to the study, the average age of
minors referred to the Youth Probation Service was 15.7 years, and the majority
of the teens were boys.
Fewer than 10% were girls.
most of those who had committed criminal offenses were Israeli-born Jews (64%),
with only 17% coming from the Arab community and 19% being immigrants – 11% from
the former Soviet Union, 4% from Ethiopia and the rest from other
The majority of those referred to the service were identified
as secular (61%), with 29% being traditional and 10% religious or
Learning disabilities such as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
were understood as being highly present among 58% of the juveniles, and 35%
admitted to either having rejected one of their parents or being in constant
conflict with them.
A large majority derived from single-parent families
– 33% compared to 10% of all children in the country – and roughly 60% of the
minors lived in large families with four or more children, compared to 17% of
all children in the country.
About 60% of the youths lived in families
that had experienced a divorce or separation of parents, the death of a sibling,
prolonged hospitalization or serious illness of a parent, or unemployment of
parents within the last three years. It was also noted that 28% of the teens had
at least one parent or sibling involved in crime, and among 17% there was a
history of gambling, drugs or alcohol abuse by another family member.
run a variety of programs for these youths, including a restorative justice
program that allows the boy and his family to meet with his victim in order to
offer some type of compensation and various mentoring programs in immigrant
populations,” commented ministry Director-General Nahum Itzkovitz.
Youth Probation Service aims to treat and rehabilitate minors aged 12-18 who are
suspected of committing crimes. Juvenile probation officers are trained social
workers authorized by law to work with children in the midst of legal
proceedings and act by assisting the police and the courts.