Welfare Ministry admits failures in protecting children
Gov't committee: Failings in protection of children at risk indirectly lead to 36 child deaths.
By RUTH EGLASH
The Welfare and Social Services Ministry failed to identify or adequately protect large numbers of children at risk over the past six years, which indirectly led to the deaths of 36 children who were murdered by family members, according to the findings of an inter-ministerial committee, published on Wednesday.Headed by Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog and director-general Nachum Itzkovitch, the committee was established following a spate of children murdered by their parents in the summer of 2008, among them the gruesome killing of four-year-old Rose Pizem by her stepfather and grandfather Roni Ron.“The awful death of Rose Pizem, whose body was found in a suitcase in the Yarkon River, Alon Borisov and Michael Kruchkov – four-year-olds who were both drowned by their mothers – Noa Goldring, who was killed by her father, and other cases show that we need to find a solution to this problem as soon as possible,” Herzog commented in a statement, after the committee released its 95-page report.“Protecting children is the responsibility of all of us but unfortunately many children in Israel are not protected and end up falling through the cracks despite the clear signs of danger,” he said, adding that hopefully, with the input of the committee’s experts, changes in legislation and procedure will work to prevent the next murder.In addition to highlighting the failures of those working with children at risk, including social workers both on a local and national level, police officers, education and health professionals, the committee also found that the sharing of information between all the relevant bodies had been ineffectual.The committee noted that 36 children had been murdered by family members over the past six years, the majority of them younger than four. Most of those were murdered by either one or both of their parents in their own home or in the home of their parent.The committee suggested several steps be taken to improve the coordination of all emergencies services and increase the exchange of information between them, as well as new legislation and clearer regulations for those working in the field.The committee recommended immediately extending an existing pilot in 56 towns for the recently approved National Program for Children at Risk.“The committee’s recommendations will lead us to a new method ofapproaching children at risk,” commented Itzkovitch. “This includesincreased emphasis on recognizing the early danger signs and on thepersonal responsibility of professionals working with the children.”The National Council for the Child, which promotes better practices forparents and those working with children, welcomed the government’sadmission of its own shortcomings and saluted the work done by themembers of the committee.“These suggestions are correct and certainly will move us in a positivedirection,” council Executive Director Yitzhak Kadman wrote in a letterto the minister.“Although none of these discoveries are new, the proof that these newsteps are working will be when we see positive the results.”
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