Reports of Child Abuse Nearly Doubled in Past Decade

Data collected from welfare bureaus show 41,000 reports of child abuse in 2007, compared to 21,000 in 1997.

The number of victims of child abuse reported to the welfare services has nearly doubled over the past decade. This emerges from figures delivered to the Knesset Thursday by Yitzhak Kadman, Executive Director the National Council for the Child.

Data collected from welfare bureaus show 41,000 reports of child abuse in 2007, compared to 21,000 in 1997. Some 3,000 more reports were registered in 1997 compared to the previous year, representing an eight percent increase. Kadman called upon the government to "formulate a special emergency plan on the basis of this document, and not to content itself with tongue wagging."

Sunday was what might be called "Rose Pizem Day" at the Knesset. Three committees held two discussions of the murder of children by their parents. There was a surprising development in the discussions when the national supervisor for children's affairs at the Welfare and Social Services Ministry, Hannah Slutzky, accused the police of deviating from the accepted procedures in the case of the child Rose.

Throughout the affair it was claimed that the police did not embark on an investigation because the procedures require a complaint from a family member or a court order in a case of disappearance. According to Slutzky, she discovered that the police have a regulation that necessitates accepting a complaint from any citizen concerning the disappearance of a child up to the age of 12. "They did not follow this procedure and they are not following it. They are not prepared to accept complaints from social workers. In the case of the child Rose, the police insisted that the grandmother complains."

The result: Even though the first complaint in the matter of Rose was registered on August 3, the investigation began only on August 12. "When we brought this matter before the police it seemed to me that they, too, are not familiar with the procedure," stressed Slutzky.

The Knesset's Research and Information Center prepared a file of data of its own in advance of the discussions. From this it emerges that about half the 283 children who stayed at emergency centers (hostels for children at risk) in 2006 were children of immigrants. In the committee discussions, the head of the Welfare Services Department at the Absorption Ministry, Sarah Cohen, called for "being careful not to make a connection between the murder cases and immigrants," and noted that in the two cases of drowning of children, the mothers were veteran immigrants who had come to Israel in 1993 and 1997.

However, the chair of the Council of Immigrant Associations in Israel, Shoshana Ron, said that it is impossible not to relate to the fact that "these are new immigrants. For me they are new."