Professionals and volunteers available to counsel youth at popular entertainment spots

Welfare Minister: we have to protect our children from possible dangers

Children play in Jerusalem fountain on extremely hot day, May 27, 2015 (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Children play in Jerusalem fountain on extremely hot day, May 27, 2015
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
The Welfare and Social Services Ministry and the Education Ministry are leading a pan-ministerial partnership in the “Beaches Project” to offer guidance and support for young people during the summer vacation.
The program is meant to help prevent substance abuse, unprotected sex, violence and potential exploitation of youth.
“Our future lies in the future of our children; we must respect and encourage them to act independently, but we also have to protect them from possible dangers along the way,” said Welfare and Social Services Minister Haim Katz on Sunday.
“Summer vacation can be a fertile time for mistakes made hastily and under peer pressure, mistakes that may endanger their future and pull them into an unnecessary cycle of self-destruction.
We are expected to prevent this and we will use all the means at our disposal to achieve this goal,” he said.
Between July 15 and August 8, stands will be set up at the Queen of Sheba Promenade Beach in Eilat, “Crack Square” in the area of Nahalat Shiva in the center of Jerusalem, Tiberias beach and the Jerusalem Beach in Tel Aviv-Jaffa.
The stands will be staffed by professionals from the youth and welfare services along with volunteers making themselves available to talk to youngsters.
According to the Welfare and Social Services Ministry, over 1,000 young people – Jews and Arabs, secular, religious, and even ultra-Orthodox – made use of these stands over the course of the 2014 summer vacation.
Of those, 385 agreed to be referred for treatment and counseling in their home towns.
Some of the issues addressed by the youth included dropping out of school, neglect and rejection by their families, assistance with the army draft, and more.
The Welfare and Social Services Ministry described the stands, that will operate in the evenings and throughout the night, as a “safe place youth can come to, stop for a minute, enjoy a hot drink, have a conversation with other youth, play cards or the guitar, and rest from the wild partying. In addition, youth who find themselves in trouble or in a crisis will get immediate attention from the professionals in the stand.”
Katz also announced he would expand the program next summer to include more beaches with high concentrations of youth.
The project is part of the “Round the Clock Education” program, and the cooperation between participating ministries is being coordinated and overseen by the 360° National Project for Children and Youth at Risk.