Israeli Daycare Center Director Arrested After Infant Hospitalized in Intensive Care

Woman, with prior child assault conviction, told police that she shook the baby because he had been crying incessantly, and that she had not meant to hurt him.

Ariel David

A 4-month-old baby was hospitalized this week in serious condition after having been shaken at his daycare center in central Israel. Police arrested the woman in charge of the center who was convicted in the past of assaulting a child.

The woman’s arrest was extended until Sunday.

The woman told police that she shook the baby because he had been crying incessantly, and that she had not meant to hurt him. The woman’s 80-year-old mother was also arrested, and released to house arrest. Her involvement in the case is not clear because the court has imposed a gag order on any personal details pertaining to her.

Police from the Sharon district said the baby, Daniel Garçon, who arrived on Monday at Schneider Children’s Medical Center in Petah Tikvah, is in an induced coma and on a respirator in intensive care. The director of Schneider’s intensive care unit, Dr. Elhanan Nahum, said the baby is suffering from intracranial bleeding but the cause was as yet not known. “It’s possible this was caused by physical injury, but at the moment only we are beginning the process,” Nahum said.

The childcare worker and her mother were convicted in 2004 of striking a 5-year-old girl who was in their care as a foster child. According to the indictment, served in 2002, the year before, the women had struck the child with a rod on a number of different occasions and had smashed her head into the toilet, pushed her and stepped on her head.

Under a plea bargain in which the women confessed to the charges and were convicted of some of them, they were given an 18-month suspended sentence. The childcare worker was also sentenced to 400 hours of community service.

According to police statistics obtained by Haaretz, between 2009 and 2015 investigations were launched against nine childcare workers who had previously been questioned on suspicion of violence toward minors.

An estimated 300,000 children from birth to three years of age are in unsupervised, private childcare settings. Anyone can open a private childcare facility, which is not subject to supervision of any kind.

In response to a query submitted to police by MK Itzik Shmuli (Zionist Union), 500 children under the age of 6 have been assaulted by adults taking care of them in childcare frameworks over the past five years. No charges were filed in 93 percent of the cases, usually due to lack of evidence. In 2015, 81 files were opened on similar charges, the highest number in the past five years.

Dr. Yitzhak Kadman, director of the National Council for the Child, said that for more than a decade now, the Knesset and the cabinet have been obstructing passage of a law on supervision and licensing of early childhood care frameworks. “And so anyone, even a person who has been convicted of offenses against children, can operate a facility to ‘care for’ children and anarchy is rampant.”

According to the council, every year thousands of babies are injured by shaking, and almost certainly the number of deaths are in the dozens. Kadman called for new parents to be taught, in maternity wards before they take their baby home, about the dangers of shaking, and for childcare workers to undergo training on the matter.