The number of youths involved in criminal activity jumped by 91% in 2021, according to the new Welfare and Social Affairs Ministry's Social Workers' Report on youths that was published on Tuesday.
The annual report details the reports of harm that came to youths in the given year, and 2021 saw 59,533 reports of abuse, harm or neglect of children and teens - an 8% rise from 2020. Of the reports, 52% were about boys, and 48% were about girls.
The types of harm that were reported most were abuse (21%) and neglect (18%) with physical abuse getting reported the most at 13,117 cases.
Reports of minors at risk
2021 saw a rise in reports of abuse of minors within the family, violence among siblings and sexual abuse of minors.
Other reports related to minors being at risk but not at the hands of another person. Reports of suicidal expressions and attempted suicides dropped in 2021 by 4% while reports of addiction rose by 20 cases.
The most notable category was reports of minors involved in crimes which rose by 91% in 2021. Social work experts suspect that these reports rose so drastically because the COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020 prevented youths from leaving their homes and getting into trouble.
Removal of minors from parental custody
In 2021, the courts recommended removing minors from the custody of their parents fewer times than they did in 2020, however, there was a rise in the cases in which the courts decided to keep minors who were already removed from their parental custody remain so.
"Harming children and teens is harming the future and strength of the nation."Welfare and Social Affairs Minister Ya'acov Margi
"This report together with the poverty and food security reports that were set in front of me is the basis for my work in the next year," said Welfare and Social Affairs Minister Ya'acov Margi. "Harming children and teens is harming the future and strength of the nation. This phenomenon forces in-depth consideration, and a series of social, therapeutic and educational responses. This report is a roadmap for me to develop services for children and teens that are dealing with situations of risk. In the next few months, the professionals are expected to place on my desk an all-encompassing plan to treat at-risk children and teens which I will then present to the government."
"The report reflects what we the social workers felt throughout the past year," said the Welfare Ministry's Chief Social Worker for the Youth Law Chava Levi who put the report together. "Alongside the decrease in numbers of suicide attempts, we are seeing a concerning rise in other parameters and in the general number of children and teens who have been harmed. While the lockdowns and the paralysis of the education system are things of the past, we are still dealing with the consequences of the pandemic, and it's going to take time until we see a stabilization in the data."
If you are concerned for the safety of a child or teenager, help and information is available at the 24-hour 118 hotline.