The socioeconomic gaps between different classes of Israeli-born children could
soon become explosive, Dr. Yitzhak Kadman, head of the National Council
for the Child, warned on Wednesday.
He spoke as the council published its
annual report for 2010.
“The gaps between those children who have and
those who do not is an issue that is apparent across the board in this report,”
Kadman, who presented the 680-page document to President Shimon Peres on
Wednesday morning, told The Jerusalem Post
“It’s not only about economic
gaps between those children whose families do not have money even for medicines
and those who get to fly abroad on vacation twice a year,” he
“The gap is also widening in terms of education, health, crime and welfare; this situation is not only intolerable for the children who
are clearly the victims, but it is also a ticking social time
According to the report, out of the 2,468,700 children who lived
in Israel in 2009, 850,300, or one in three, lived below the poverty line,
nearly five times as many poor children as there were in 1980.
situation in Israel is very disturbing,” Kadman said. “One-third of Israeli
children live below the poverty line. For minorities such as the Beduin and the
haredim there is a big problem of malnutrition and there has become a clear link
between parents with a low income and those teens who end up with a criminal
He added: “Compare it on an international scale and we see that
in Israel children study in classes with too many pupils and overall the
government spends less on each child; they are even talking about cutting child
allotments even further.”
Kadman also pointed to the dire situation of
the roughly 100,000 children of migrant workers and asylum-seekers who do not
have any legal status.
“This means that for them they do not have health
care or a social worker to look out for them,” he said. “It is not one or two or
even hundreds, there are thousands... This situation needs to be
Several other potential flash points highlighted by the
statistics include the falling rate of adoption, which Kadman explained could be
viewed positively in that there were fewer children being born into broken
homes, but was also happening because the legal system was becoming increasingly
less flexible in allowing willing and able families to adopt children with
In addition, he said marriages and births among
teenage girls was also a challenge facing the country, with 1,556 minors having
babies in 2009. Out of that number, 20 were under the age of 15, 124 under 16,
372 under 17 and 1,040 under 18.
Roughly 22 percent were Jews and the
rest were Arabs.
While the report presented some disturbing points in the
country’s treatment of children, there were some optimistic elements, such as a
fall in the number of youths committing crimes. In 2009, the police filed 33,023
reports against minors, down from 47.2 reports per 1,000 youths in 2000 to 45.3
reports per 1,000 youths in 2009.
Other positive points, noted Kadman,
were an increase in education levels in the Arab community; a drop in the number
of children hurt in traffic accidents (from 70 a decade ago to 35 in 2009) and a
rise in volunteerism among teens.
Peres said it was unacceptable that
more than a third of Israeli children were undernourished and deprived of the
ability to develop as they should. He called for more investment in the nation’s
children not only in terms of their material needs but also in matters of
He urged that the authorities make education more accessible
to all, and pay more attention to literacy, because every schoolchild should be
able to read.
Peres lauded the dedication of the National Council for the
Child and suggested that the organization and Beit Hanassi join forces in a
major effort to advance the welfare of the nation’s youngest children by
ensuring that they all receive milk and health services from the nation’s health
Peres said he was fearful of what future statistics would reveal
and that what concerned him most was the growing abuse of children, who in
ever-increasing numbers have been victims of sexual assault, and domestic and
Overall, 161,042 children were born in Israel in
2009, with 69.4% being Jewish; 24.1% Muslim; 2.9% listed without a religion;
1.7% Christian; and 1.9% Druse.
The largest population of children was in
Jerusalem (308,083); Tel Aviv had 78,290 children and Bnei Brak 71,342.