Sunday, January 01, 2006

Report: Child abuse cases up 130 percent over last decade

I believe the stats are up because more people are reporting. Remember it's no longer "as taboo" to report when you suspect a child is being abused or neglected. It's our duty to make sure all children are given the opportunity to grow up in abuse free environments.

Vicki Polin, Executive Director
The Awareness Center, Inc.

Israeli FlagReport: Child abuse cases up 130 percent over last decade
By Ruth Sinai, Haaretz Correspondent
Haaretz - December 26, 2005

The number of reported cases of child abuse and neglect has risen by 130 percent in the last decade and the number of children taken to the emergency room for abuse has risen by 166 percent, according to the annual National Council for the Child report, which was released on Sunday.

Nearly 39,000 children were abused in 2004, compared to 16,815 in 1995, the report said. Close to 19 percent were aged 5 and younger, and 36 percent were aged 6 to 11.

Between 2003 and 2004, there was an average increase of 20 percent in the number of reported cases of children in danger in many towns and cities around the country - including Jerusalem, Petah Tikva, Netanya, Rishon Letzion and Rehovot.

"We cannot continue to ignore the growth of the neglected backyard of Israeli society, and too many children are growing up there - in danger, neglected and without a guiding hand," council head Dr. Yitzhak Kadman said when he handed the report to President Moshe Katsav on Sunday.

Katsav called on the Israeli public not to vote for a party that offers no solutions for the crises facing children and youths, and said neglecting the crisis today would cost society a great deal in the future.

The researchers who compiled the report said that when compared to Western countries, Israeli children rank somewhere in the middle on education, health and other parameters - but they lead the ranks of the poor. The researchers, led by Dr. Asher Ben Aryeh, wrote that they were particularly worried in light of the finding that "in all the Western countries, significant steps were taken to change and improve the situation" - but in Israel, the situation has gotten worse.

The report found that nearly a third of the abused children had been hurt by both their parents; 23 percent were abused by their mothers, 21 percent by their fathers, and the rest by other relatives. Some 3 percent had been abused by a stranger.

Only 3.3 percent of abuse claims that social workers received turned out to be false, the report found.

Thirty-seven percent of the abuse was physical or sexual, 33 percent related to neglect and 12 percent was emotional, according to the study.

The number of children taken to the emergency room due to abuse grew from 888 in 1995 to 2,385 in 2004.

The changes for the worse extend beyond abuse, and include general health issues. In the previous school year, 178,000 students took eye exams - half the number of the year before, due to budget cuts in health services provided in schools. The result was that while 33,000 students were found to have vision problems two years ago, only 21,000 were found to have vision problems last year.

"A child who doesn't see the blackboard becomes a child who disturbs, his grades go down and he goes into a dive that's liable to end with him dropping out and getting involved in crime," said Kadman.

In addition, there has been an increase in the average weight of teens entering the army. The proportion of boys who weigh more than 81 kilograms has gone up from 9.4 percent in 1995 to 12 percent in 2004, and from 2.6 percent of girls in 1995 to 3.5 percent last year.

"As a result of the welfare, health and education policies of the government, hundreds of thousands of children will sit today in utter darkness that even a hanukkiya won't light up," said Shas Chair MK Eli Yishai. "The abject failure and total paralysis in guarding the children of Israel is a serious indictment against the state."

Yair Ettinger contributed to this article.


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