Data: Kids with special needs suffer more abuse

National Council for the Child present data showing children with special needs suffer more abuse than other youngsters.

Disabled child in special wheelchair 370 (photo credit: Courtesy Chimes)
Disabled child in special wheelchair 370
(photo credit: Courtesy Chimes)
Children with special needs suffer more abuse than other youngsters, according to new data presented for the first time by the National Council for the Child at a conference hosted by Ben-Gurion University in Beersheba on Tuesday.
According to the council, such cases of child abuse are under-reported and even concealed in Israel as some 5,000 cases are thought to occur each year but only some 700 are reported to the authorities.
In addition, only about 200 of them are being examined by specialized investigators.
The data also indicated that children with special needs are much more vulnerable to cases of severe abuse than other children.
Among the disabled children who have suffered from abuse in 2011, 36.3 percent have endured serious injuries caused by rape, sodomy and extreme use of force, a percentage double than the number of abused children from the general population.
Yifat Klein, a social worker and the director of programs for children with disabilities at JDC-Ashalim, stressed at the conference that disabled children tend to endure a few types of injuries and also suffer from repeated ones.
Klein also explained that children with special needs is more affected by violence because they depend on others which makes them develop habits of obedience and submission.
These children are also often excluded from activities with their peers and therefore do not have basic knowledge and understanding of what is allowed and what is not. Some of the cases of abuse take place within the family, often out of frustration and inability to cope with the difficulties of the parent- child relationship, Klein said.
As part of the event, seven members of the Knesset present also participated in a panel discussing their respective parties’ positions in regards to child welfare and its budgeting.
Labor MK Isaac Herzog said he expects to see at least one issue that deals with children as part of current coalition talks.
He added that in the meantime, the only thing involving the subject he has seen at the negotiations table are cuts in child benefits.
Meretz MK Ilan Gilon claimed that the most important issue to invest in is the integration of children with special needs.
“The idea should be that the system is adapted to children, not that children are adapted to the system,” he said. “Without solidarity, everyone will have to carry his bundle on his own and will not succeed.”
Tuesday’s conference also covered issues including children and teenager’s health, education and socioeconomic situations.