“We don’t invest enough in the prevention or treatment of child abuse,” Dr.
Yitzchak Kadman, executive director of the National Council for the Child told
said Wednesday. Kadman was at the President’s Residence to present President
Shimon Peres with the first copy of the 2011 edition of the almanac Children in
Israel, published for the 20th consecutive year.
Containing hundreds of
pages of child-oriented statistics, the almanac, which Kadman asserted is the
only one of its kind in the world, paints a disturbing picture about the
inadequacy of educational, health, social welfare and leisure time services
available to the nation’s children.
Child poverty rates increase among immigrants
MKs: Child welfare more important than privacy laws
Citing some of the thoughtprovoking
statistics that have been accumulated in the book, Kadman said: “It’s a myth
that we love children.” Promises about a better future are constantly made to
children, but children can’t live on promises alone, he said.
called on the government to prove it means what it says when it talks about what
it wants to do for the child population.
“We have to do what needs to be
done now and stop talking about the future,” he said.
Ben-Arieh, the editor of Children in Israel and the director of the Haruv
Institute established by the Israel division of the Schusterman Foundation to
protect the rights of all children and to work towards giving them a safe and
secure upbringing, declared that not only has the situation not improved, but in
some instances has deteriorated.
He was particularly concerned about the
sexual, psychological and physical abuse of children, which over a 15- year
period has increased by 180%.
There were 48,000 cases reported in 2010
Abuse is not always defined by violence, Ben-Arieh explained.
Sometimes it’s just sheer negligence.
As far as negligence is concerned,
Ben-Arieh was severely critical of municipalities that fail to provide
sufficient extracurricular activities for youth, as a result of which many
children are put risk because they are outside of any supervised framework, and
can often be seen roaming shopping malls either on their own or in
At the end of 2010, the total number of children in Israel was
2,519,900, representing 32.7% of the overall population.
Of these, 8.6%
-a total of 215,477 – live in single parent households compared to 6.8% in
In the 40-years from 1970- 2010 the child population has more than
doubled from 1,183,000 to just under 2,520,000. Part of the difference can be
attributed to immigration, even though the number of child immigrants has been
decreasing annually from 54,051 in 1990 to 4,632 in 2010.
Of the 166,255
babies born in Israel in 2010, 75.5% were Jewish, while the overall percentage
of Jewish children in the country in 2010 was considerably lower and stood at
Muslim children accounted for 24%, those without religion 2.8%,
Christian children 1.7% and Druze 1.9%.
Of these, the only increase
percentage-wise since 1995 was in the Muslim community, where the percentage had
risen from 20.2%. In all other cases there had been a marked decline in
Jerusalem, which has the largest population in the
country also has the largest child population, and heads the list of births in
2010 by an extraordinary lead of 22,383 compared to only 8,015 in Tel Aviv, and
even fewer in Bnei Brak, which is listed as having 5,662 births. Ashdod was next
with 4,258 followed by Petah Tikva with 3,935, Haifa 3,878, Rishon Lezion 3,654,
Netanya 3,405, Beersheba 3,261 and Holon 3,106.
One of the astounding
statistics relates to the number of children in Israel who are not Israeli
citizens. About 35,000 are children of permanent resident or foreign workers.
But of a total of 155,000 without Israeli citizenship, 77.4% are residents of
Of the children in single-parent households, 666 are the
offspring of soldiers who lost their lives in the line of duty.
it is difficult to adopt orphans or children removed from unfit parents in
Israel, many adoptions are conducted abroad. In 2010, only 78 Israeliborn
children were put up for adoption. Of these, 48 were babies up to the age of 2,
The year 2007, was a relatively heavy year for adoptions from abroad rising to
221 compared to 174 in the previous year. In 2010, there was a sharp decline to
124. Most adopted babies in Israel in recent years were born in Ukraine and
Russia. Up until 2002, there were also infants born in Romania, but adoptions
from that country have since ceased. The total number of adoptions from
1998-2010 of children born abroad was 2,463.
Both Kadman and Ben-Arieh
noted a very high percentage of children don’t find school to be a pleasant
place, as a result of which some drop out because they can’t cope including
youngsters from well functioning families.
“45% of children tell us they
don’t want to go to school,” said Kadman.
One such teenager was an 18-
year-old by the name of Yonatan, who gave a dissertation on school dropouts,
blending statistics with his own personal story. Yonatan ,who comes from Tel
Aviv simply couldn’t concentrate in school.
It had nothing to do with his
family background. His family, he said, was perfectly normal.
suffers from an attention deficiency disorder, which none of his teachers
He just kept getting low marks, and one year he did so poorly
in the exams that he was kept down. School was a frustrating place for him, a
place in which he felt ignored and humiliated. He was on the verge of becoming a
school dropout until he came into contact with an education counselor who urged
him to enroll in the HILA program, a complementary education project under the
auspices of the Education Ministry’s Youth at Risk Advancement department, and
administered by municipalities across the country.
Yonatan has been in
the program for two years, and is getting good grades at levels that he never
dreamt of when he was in junior high school. He is now working towards a full
high school diploma.
HILA is geared to dropouts and youth at risk. Kadman
pronounced Yonatan a prime example of what can be done for people with special
needs once their potential is recognized.
The problem, Ben-Arieh pointed
is that social services have not grown at the same rate as the population. Every
social worker engaged in child welfare has a caseload of 170 files when it is
generally accepted in Western countries that the maximum case load should be no
more than 30 files. The child social welfare system is in danger of collapse, he
There was some good news, however. There has been a decrease in
infant mortality, and contrary to popular belief said Ben-Arieh, there has been
a drop in the incidence of juvenile crime.
Peres spoke of the importance
of encouraging young people in the class room and in areas of informal
Emphasizing that Israel’s human resources are its best asset,
Peres said that if children are not encouraged to develop their potential, the
country will have no future. Everyone has untapped potential, he said. He had
met with many junior scientists who at ages as young as 12, were incredibly
innovative and creative, had produced amazing products and had started
businesses, he said.
Peres recommended every school child undertake a
high tech project of some kind and proposed they should work for two hours each
day in a hitech plant to gain the satisfaction of team work and an understanding
of the hi-tech environment.
He couldn’t understand young people who go to
the beach and spend hours doing nothing other than lying on the sand just to get
sun tanned, he said. “They should make something. They would enjoy it more.”