The Israel National Council for the Child's annual report, presented to Israeli President Shimon Peres Sunday morning, revealed that one in every three children in Israel is poor and one in every five has suffered some sort of sexual abuse.
The report, penned by the director-general of the Israel National Council for the Child, Dr. Yitzhak Kadman, also claimed that every seventh child suffers physical abuse, and almost every other child is exposed to negative sexual content.
There were 2,626,400 children living in Israel at the end of 2013. Of these, about 885,000 lived in poverty – a ratio which has quadrupled over the last three decades (from 8.1% in 1980 to 33.7% in 2012).
Since 1998, the percentage of children below the poverty line ballooned by 60%. The picture is even grimmer when divided by sector: 67.9% of Arab children live in poverty compared to 22.9% of Jewish children.
During 2012, only 5.3% of destitute children were rescued from poverty by State transfer payments compared to 10.5% at the turn of the millennium. The ability of such benefits and tax deductions to reduce poverty has eroded drastically since then, partially because of cutbacks to stipends.
The report reveals the staggering gaps between the percentages of poverty in different districts. The Jerusalem district had twice the rate of poverty as the Tel Aviv district (59.4% to 23.7%).
From 1998 to 2012, the number of criminal cases opened due to child abuse increased by 31.3%.
In 2012, investigators registered some 9,399 children up to the age of 14 who had been the victims of sexual violence, up from 7,909 in 2011. The number of total reported cases of alleged abuse in 2012 stood at 48,894 cases – a disturbing growth of 190% from 1995, when the figure stood at 16,815.
There were 2,578 cases investigated by social workers of sexually abused children in 2012. Of the children investigated for sexual abuse and could identify their abuser, 49.6% were abused by their parent or relative.
President Shimon Peres released a response to the report: "The report presented to me today shows a sad picture of child neglect in Israel and it should worry us all. According to the report, we are simply wasting our potential. Child neglect is the worst possible sin. We cannot accept that every third or fourth child in Israel has suffered sexual abuse."
The statement continued, "There is no way that a national deficit can hang on the youngest shoulders. We must redistribute our resources according to clear goals in a way that will help children at risk. Neglecting the children today is a mistake we will pay for in the future.
Shachar Chai contributed to this report