There has been a significant rise in cases of sexual assault and rape against minors under the age of 12, according to a first-of-its-kind report released Monday by the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel (ARCCI). The report, which was presented to a joint session of the Knesset Committees on Education, Culture and Sports; the Status of Women and the Rights of the Child on Monday, also showed a rise in indecent sexual acts committed against teens aged 13-18 and a dramatic fall in the age of sexual offenders, with a growing percentage being under 12. "These statistics paint a very alarming picture of sexual violence among youngsters, both those who are victims and their offenders," commented Michal Rozin, director of ARCCI. "Teachers are in desperate need of the right tools to guide and support the victims that need help and to be able to recognize cases of sexual violence in schools." Overall, the center received more than 40,000 calls to its rape crisis hotline in 2007, with 8729 first-time callers. More than half of those first-time calls came from children under the age of 18, reported the association. In a breakdown of the figures, the report notes that 18 percent of the calls received by the center from the under-12 set related to rape, with 14% reporting indecent assault and an overwhelming 64.4% involving incest. In fact, a large number of the complaints received by ARCCI were about attacks happening either in the home (74%) or in other 'safe' environments such as at school (9%). Among those under the age of 12, there were 1,168 rape or sexual assault cases involving family members; 20 reports of teachers being the offenders and 163 attacks by complete strangers to the child. ARCCI's report also noted that a growing number of cases involved children under 12 carrying out the attacks. While only about half of those who reported sexual crimes mentioned the age of their attackers, roughly 3% said that the offender was younger than 12 and 14.7% reported the attacker to be 13-18. Among the older teens, there were 841 reports of rape, attempted rape or statutory rape; 162 reports of group sexual attacks; 331 reports of incest; and 268 reports of indecent assault. "This report reflects a defective Israeli society," commented MK Michael Melchior (Labor), chairman of the Knesset Committee on Education, Culture and Sport. "The proof is in this report, which shows that the victims are becoming younger and younger and we are powerless to protect our children's most immediate environment." He continued: "This report's statistics do not allow Israeli society to continue burying our collective heads in the sand. We have to fight this phenomenon and continue to build child protection centers that provide essential assistance to the victims." On Sunday, the Ministerial Committee on Legislation approved a NIS 14.4 million plan from the Ministry of Welfare and Social Services to create comprehensive rehabilitation services for sexual offenders. Experts working to help child rape and sexual assault victims have repeatedly called on the government to improve prevention services either to stop offenders from continuing to attack or to treat young victims as a measure intended to prevent them from becoming offenders themselves in later life. The Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel runs a 24-hour emergency hot line, which can be reached by calling 1202 for women and 1203 for men.