Social gaps in Israel are getting wider: According to the annual report by National Council for the Child (NCC), the number of children living under the poverty line has crossed 900,000 for the first time, all the while economical gaps between those living in the center and those living in the periphery, as well as between Jews and Arabs, have increased.
According to the report, which was handed to President Shimon Peres by NCC CEO Dr. Yitzhak Kadman, one in every three children in Israel is defined as poor and the number of child abuse cases has risen. However there was also some good news: The number of children injured in traffic accidents has declined, as has drug and alcohol use among teens.
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In 2011, the number of children living under the poverty line was 905,000, which is 35.6% of all Israeli children; for the sake of comparison, in 2010 the number stood at 889,500.
The increase in poverty in 2011 reflects a continuation of a trend in rising poverty numbers among Israeli children recorded in the previous decades. The previous decade (2001 – 2011) has seen a 48% increase in the number of children eligible for welfare services, while the last three decades have seen more than a four-fold growth in child poverty (from 8.1% in 1980 to 35.6% in 2011). Specifically, a 60% increase has been registered since 1998.
There was also a pronounced gap between the situation of children living in the center of the country and those living in the periphery. In Jerusalem and the north, the number of children living in poverty was double those living in Tel Aviv and the center.
This situation was mirrored in the relation between Jewish and Arab children, with 65.8% of Arab children living under the poverty line in comparison to only 24.2% of Jewish ones. This represents a 9% increase for Arab children over the last decade.
An additionally startling piece of data was the rise in physical and sexual assaults registered against children. This signaled a 193.9% rise in the number of suspected child abuse cases over the last decade. For perspective's sake, 15 years ago only 16,815 of such cases were reported in contrast to 49,426 in 2011.
The report also sheds light on the plight of status-less children. In March 2012 a record number of 156,000 children with no citizenship were living in Israel, a 25% increase since 2001. The NCC stresses that this group contains children whose resident status has not be settled and include the children of foreign workers, children who have immigrated to Israel and the children of asylum seekers whose requests have yet to be processed.
Status-less children. (Photo: Moti Kimchi)
In the field of education data shows that since 1979/1980 and until 2009/2010 the number of students register in the public school system has decreased by 22.1%, while the number of those registered in the religious and haredi public school system has increased respectively.
Enrolment in religious school system on the rise (Photo: AFP)
Some good news
There was however some positive results regarding juvenile delinquency. The number of police files opened for minors decreased by 13.4% from 2000 to 2011.
Delinquency declining (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
More good news was reported in regards to the number of children under the age of 17 involved in traffic accidents, which dropped from 5,828 in 1991 to 3,752 in 2011.