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Up to 70,000 Israeli children suffer abuse or profound neglect every year, according to figures released ahead of an international conference on medical aspects child abuse and neglect that will be held in Tel Aviv today.

Almost half of those cases go unreported, according to research from the Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute.

"It's clear that thousands of cases of cruel abuse against helpless children go unexposed and untreated forever," Haruv Institute director, Professor Hillel Schmid, said. The institute is sponsoring the conference along with the Ministry of Health.

Abuse in Israel is estimated to affect one out of every 30 children. According to Schmid, though, the real numbers could be higher.

Last year 40,000 reports of neglect and of sexual, emotional and physical abuse of children were received by Israeli welfare authorities. Researchers at the Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute believe that 70,000 children are affected by neglect or abuse in Israel every year. Schmid said the 30,000 case discrepancy was from unreported cases.

According to Schmid, in Israel there is a lack of awareness of the importance of reporting suspected abuse, and there is not enough sharing of information among the welfare, health and education authorities in this regard. In addition, he said, there is insufficient data on the scope of the problem.

Last year 2,700 children who were subjected to abuse or to extreme neglect reached out for medical help. About 60 percent of the cases involved physical abuse serious enough to require treatment.

Dr. David Corwin, a psychiatrist from the United States who is a specialist in the field, will also report on new research in the U.S. showing that one out of seven children is exposed to emotional, physical or sexual abuse. Corwin said child abuse has become more common than any childhood disease.