The rate of child abuse in Israel is higher than it’s ever been, according to a
study released by the National Council for the Child on Tuesday.
product of a collaboration between the University of Haifa, the Traiana Center
for the Study of Society and the Education Ministry, among others, the study was
conducted over the past school year among a representative national sample of
10,513 children – 8,239 from the Jewish sector and 2,274 from the Arab sector –
aged 12,14, and 16.
The study is the first of its kind in Israel, in that
it examined the extent of the phenomenon of child abuse with a large sample of
testimony from children themselves.
All the data that had been collected
on child abuse in Israel so far had been based exclusively on information and
cases reported to the authorities.
In the Jewish sector, almost half of
the children surveyed – 48.5 percent – reported that they had experienced one or
more types of abuse. In addition, the report showed that there is a very
significant gap between the number of child victims of abuse known to the
authorities and the number of children who indicated directly that they had been
In 2012, social workers reported 48,992 children and youth on
suspicion of child abuse and neglect, which constituted 1.9% of all children in
Israel, compared to the 48.5% of children who reported being affected by abuse
in this study.
According to the data, boys are more likely to be harmed
in physical and emotional abuse, whereas girls are more likely to be victims of
sexual abuse and be exposed to domestic violence within the family.
was also found that the rate of abuse is higher with the age of the child: among
12-year-olds, 42.9% reported that they had endured some kind of violence, while
48.9% of 14-year-olds and 58% of 16-year-olds reported so.
In terms of
physical abuse, 14.1% of children in the Jewish sector and 27.6% in the Arab
sector reported that they had been kicked, hit or physically hurt.
75.5% of the cases in the Jewish sector, the person who had harmed them was a
member of their family and in 13.3% of them, the child reported that their
abuser had used an object such as a stick, a rock, a gun or a knife, or the
like. The percentage of those who went for medical treatment was
About 70.9% of the Jewish children who had been physically hurt
said that the harm occurred more than once and 18.8% of them said their injuries
had required medical treatment.
When it comes to sexual abuse, the
children surveyed were asked whether adults who they know had ever touched their
private parts or had ever forced them to touch theirs.
According to the
results, 17.6% of children in the Jewish sector and 22.3% of children in the
Arab sector had been victims of sexual abuse.
About 8.3% of Jewish
children and 11.8% of Arab children had suffered serious sexual harm.
the children who had been sexually abused, 46.5% in the Jewish sector and 49% in
the Arab sector indicated that the abuse occurred more than once, and most of
them also mentioned that it had continued over the past year.
the vast majority indicated that their abuser was a man and over onethird of the
children abused said it had happened within their family.
The study also
looked at the problem of neglect and found that 14.3% of children in the Jewish
sector had experienced some form of physical neglect, ranging from situations in
which a child had nothing to eat or no clean clothes to wear to situations where
there was no one to look after him and protect him or no one to take him to the
In the Arab sector, 33.4% of children reported that they had
already been physically neglected.
Almost 30% of these children reported
that the neglect eventually led to an illness.
It was also noted that
boys are at a higher risk of suffering from physical neglect than
On the emotional side, 27.8% of Jewish children reported that they
had been called names by adults in their family or felt unwanted or hated by
their parents, and 15.2% reported that they had experienced emotional
Among Arab children, 40.1% had been harmed emotionally and 22%
were emotionally neglected.
The study also showed that in most cases,
children are afraid and ashamed to report the abuse, and when they do, they
prefer to tell family or friends but not professionals.
According to the
figures, in the Jewish sector, 68.2% of children who were sexually abused had
reported the harm to someone and 63.5% of children who were physically attacked
reported the case as well.
The majority of Arab children as well have
The three main reasons that a child chooses not to report
abuse, the report showed, are shame, fear and fear of harming someone
For those who did choose to report the harm done to them, the three
main factors that encouraged them to do so were the desire to see the
perpetrator punished, not being able to withstand the pain, and fear that the
abuse would not stop.
Most of the children who reported their abuse said
they did so in person, but the more severe the injury, the more likely children
were to report it via a phone call, an SMS or the Internet.