MKs too busy to pay attention to welfare of children, says top exec

Vered Windman, executive director of the National Council of the Child said that politicians need to get back to addressing the needs of the third of children who are subject to abuse.

Kasowitz presenting LEGO bricks to Jewish school children (photo credit: Courtesy)
Kasowitz presenting LEGO bricks to Jewish school children
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Politicians from all political parties have been too busy with election campaigns over the past year to pay attention to the welfare of Israel’s children, according to Vered Windman, the executive director of the National Council for the Child.
Once a government is in place, lawmakers should concern themselves with the most vulnerable members of society, she said Tuesday.
Windman leveled her sharp criticism of politicians after presenting the council’s annual Statistical Report on the Child in Israel to President Reuven Rivlin.
Since publication of the first annual report nearly three decades ago, the public has become more aware of the needs and safety of children, she said.
But approximately one-third of Israel’s children up to the age of 17 are exploited or subjected to verbal or physical abuse, Windman said.
Last year, there were 16,424 new case files of crimes against minors, she said, adding that minors should be able to live in safety, given that people always talk about wanting the best for their children.
Windman lamented the dearth of properly trained professionals to care for and protect children at risk, adding that there is too much bureaucracy and not enough compassion.
The situation consistently exacerbates as the number of children increases from year to year, she said. There are now 880,230 children living below the poverty line, which means that one out of three children grow up in economic distress. Juvenile crime was on the rise, she added.
Social media has been a very negative factor in matters of child welfare, not only because children spend too much time on their cellphones, but because posted messages can become so hurtful as to prompt victims who have been publicly shamed to want to commit suicide, Windman said.
Suicide attempts by youths below the age of 14 rose 62% over the past decade, she said. adding that girls accounted for three-quarters of suicidal youths who were admitted to hospital emergency units.
At the beginning of each year, Rivlin said, he receives annual reports from various organizations and institutions, such as the Institute for National Security Studies, which assesses the security situation; the Israel Democracy Institute, which assembles the democracy index; and the statistical report of the National Council of the Child – “and suddenly it all becomes clear – the big words, the threats, the opportunities, the strategies, empowerment, social resilience, social gaps, confidence in democratic institutions. All these words become stepping stones on which we all walk for the benefit of our children.”