New Law Calls for 7 Centers to Protect Child Victims of Sexual Violence

Law approved by Knesset stipulates establishment of centers that consolidate plethora of child services.

The Knesset approved a law Wednesday stipulating the establishment of seven centers for protecting child victims of sexual violence.

The new centers will provide a plethora of services including psychological and health care, social services, representatives from the youth department of the police, investigators specializing in children, subsidized legal services and volunteers from the various children's rights groups, among others.

These centers will provide all the services at one place, allowing children and teens to receive the precise care they require.

Over the last 20 years, this type of center has been operating in 400 different locations in the United States, and they are considered a desired model for the treatment of child victims of sexual crimes and violence. The first such center has been opened in Jerusalem as a pilot, and has been termed a success.

The total cost of operating the seven centers comes to approximately NIS 7 million.

The law was proposed by Knesset Education Committee Chairman Rabbi Michael Melchior (Labor). The National Council for the Child promoted the bill. The law was approved by 67 MK, including all the ministers present in the plenum. No one opposed.

The text accompanying the law said "the multiple services and the splitting of the care giving facilities cause difficulties, both mental and otherwise, in children who are treated by a large number of professionals, forced to answer the same probing questions many times, taken to places that are not tailored for children and subject to bureaucracy and delays."

According to Melchior, the law poses as "the first meaningful Knesset response to the national plague of abuse of helpless children. Thanks to the protection centers approved today, they [the children] won't have to relive the abuse and the rape over and over again every time they are treated by government workers."

"Once and for all," he continued, "the injustice by which criminals get intensive government care while the victims are neglected in the depths of bureaucracy has finally been righted."

The chairman of the National Council for the Child, Yitzhak Kedman, said that the law is a message from the Knesset to child victims of violence that the government is with them.