An annual report submitted by National Council for the Child to President Shimon Peres
on Wednesday indicates that one out of every three Israeli children is poor.
The report claims there is an increase in the number of children who have fallen victim to physical and sexual abuse, but the number of youths who have committed acts of violence has dropped.
There has also been a drop in the number of infant deaths and in the number of children injured in accidents, according to the report.
"We mustn't give up on even one child. The State of Israel
is committed to the welfare and education of its children, who will be the (backbone) of the country's future," Peres said.
According to the report, by the end of 2010 some 2,519,000 children lived in Israel, constituting 32.7% of the general population. The NCC said 69.7% of Israeli children are Jews (compared with 75% in 1995), 24% are Muslim (compared with 20.2% in 1995), 2.8% are defined as having no religions affiliation, 1.7% are Christian (compared with 2.7% in 1995) and 1.9% are Druze (2.2% in 1995).
The number of children living below the poverty
line in 2010 reached 889,500 (35.3% of the entire child population). The past three decades have seen a sharp rise in the number of poor Israeli children – from 8.1% in 1980 to 35.3% in 2010. The report said 65.8% of Arab-Israeli children live in poverty, almost three times the amount of poor Jewish
Some 430,000 children are known to welfare services, an increase of about 50% over the past few years.
'Children are the future.' Kadman presents report to Peres (Photo: Marc Neiman)
"The report presents a grim picture of Israeli children's lives," NCC Director Yitzhak Kadman said. "The number of poor kids in Israel is higher than in any other Western country. But the fact that more children fall victim to abuse is also worrying. Indoors or outdoors – there are very few places that are safe for children."
Last year also saw a rise in the number of criminal cases related to offenses against children (260 as opposed to 214 in 2009); 16 of them were murder cases, while 48 were cases of attempted murder. The number of cases related to child offenses has increased tenfold since 2005.
The NCC report further showed that 2,378 cases related to sex offenses against minors were opened in 2010, compared with 2,244 in the previous year.
According to the data, the number of foreign children who are seeking asylum in Israel is also on the rise. In 2010 more than 1,000 foreign children entered Israel through its border with Egypt.
About 390 of them were detained or held in Israel Prison Service facilities.
So how do Israeli children spend their free time? According to the report, over half of children aged 15-18 visit a mall more than once a week, and more than two-thirds enter a clothing store at least once a week.
Over 50% of Israeli children spend at least NIS 100 ($26) on cosmetics products and at least NIS 300 ($79) enjoy shopping as a form of entertainment.
The NCC report further showed that the main source of information for Israeli children aged 15-18 in 2010 was the Internet (82%), followed by television (7.2%) and newspapers (3.6%). About 70% of Israeli teens in the same age group have a Facebook account, according to the report.