State to open 7 treatment centers for abused children

Centers to be based on a model that has been successfully operating in the US for 20 years.

domestic abuse 88 (photo credit: )
domestic abuse 88
(photo credit: )
Seven one-stop treatment centers for child victims of physical and sexual abuse must be set up within three years, according to a law approved by the Knesset this week. The centers, which for the first time will bring together all the bodies that work with abused children, will be based on a model that has been successfully operating in the US for 20 years. "The centers will bring together all the services - police, psychologists, doctors and child welfare officers - under one roof," said MK Michael Melchior (Labor-Meimad), who sponsored the legislation. "Victims will no longer have to run around to all the offices and re-live their nightmare over and over again." Today, children must re-tell their nightmare experiences at police stations, hospitals and government offices to be assessed and helped. Dr. Yitzhak Kadman, director of the National Council for the Child, which has been pushing for the legislation for more than five years, told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday the centers would be based on the "principle that after a child suffers initial abuse, he or she will not have to undergo secondary victimization when recounting their experiences." "[At these centers] there will either be closed-circuit television cameras or one-way mirrors so that the child can talk about what has happened to them one time and all those involved can observe instead of asking questions over again," Kadman said. It was essential such centers not be housed in police stations, hospitals or government offices, he added. "They must be separate centers that are friendly to children, with lots of toys and games that allow the child to be relaxed and open up," he said. There is currently one such center in Israel, in Jerusalem's Kiryat Hayovel neighborhood. Opened several years ago as a pilot, the center, which is funded by the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, receives both children referred by professionals and any child who believes he or she are a victim. "When it opened, Lynn Schusterman offered to support additional centers but the government did nothing about it," said Kadman, who added that the many reports of child abuse in the past month likely encouraged politicians to support Melchior's bill. A spokesman for Melchior said that under the new law, which was supported by 67 MKs from across the political spectrum, the Finance Ministry was obligated to find NIS 7 million to fund the centers for the next three years. They will be operated by the Welfare and Social Services Ministry.