(photo credit: Judy Siegel-Itzkovich)
The Facebook social networking website is suspected of being at the center of
two incidents that came to light on Wednesday, one involving the statutory rape
of a 13-year-old girl by several young men, and another the suicide of a young
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Two Netanya youths, aged 22 and 17, have already been arrested on
suspicion of raping the girl, although Ch.-Supt.
Assaf Zilberstein, head
of operations and investigations for the city’s police force, would not confirm
reports that the victim met them on Facebook.
The 22-year-old suspect had
been employed by the police’s National Serious and International Crimes Unit as
an undercover informer, Hebrew media reported, and allegedly raped the girl
while working with the police. Police sources confirmed that the suspect had
been an informer.
Zilberstein said that several more teenage boys were
being questioned in the investigation.
“The boys met her in various
ways,” he said.
“According to the girl’s testimony, the two suspects
raped her, leading to their arrests,” he continued, adding that the alleged
offenses had taken place in public areas such as parks and bomb
Zilberstein said police had first been alerted to the alleged
incidents by social services.
A spokeswoman for the Welfare and Social
Services Ministry confirmed the case, saying that the girl was considered to be
at high risk and was currently being helped at a social services-run emergency
The spokeswoman could not confirm, however, Hebrew media reports
that the girl had been impregnated by one of the boys and undergone an
In the other incident, a boy from the Jerusalem area killed
himself after receiving nasty comments and being teased by classmates on
Facebook, his parents said.
His body was found on Tuesday afternoon by
his younger sister. Immediately after the suicide became known, the negative
comments were removed from his Facebook page, a friend said.
parents told reporters that he had exhibited no signs of distress. His mother
promised to make it her mission to work with other young people to make them
understand the potential dangers of the website.
Dr. Yitzhak Kadman, the
National Council for the Child’s executive director, told The Jerusalem Post it
was unlikely that a teen would commit suicide solely based on comments found on
Facebook and that most likely there had been other factors involved.
could have been the straw that broke the camel’s back, however,” he
Kadman said there had been a 40-percent increase in teen suicides
in Israel over the past few years and that social networking websites were fast
becoming one of the biggest dangers facing the country’s youth.
Internet networking websites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have some
very excellent attributes, and today it is part of the modern life of children,
we are failing to teach them how to use this tool properly,” Kadman
“Parents are failing and the authorities are failing,” he said. “We
leave children alone to play on these sites and they simply do not have adequate
tools to deal with them. Often these interactions end in all sorts of negative
ways, leading to sexual abuse, suicide and ‘virtual violence,’ which is no less
dangerous than the physical kind.”
Kadman likened the dangers to the
“We give our children vaccinations against the flu just in case they
catch it, but we do not give them the tools to protect them from the predators
and dangers on the Internet,” he said.
It was time parents became more
aware of these dangers and the authorities incorporated techniques in their
activities for teaching children about Internet safety, he asserted.
taught our children how to cross the road, and learning how to be safe online is
exactly the same thing,” Kadman said.