The product of a collaboration between the University of Haifa, the Traiana Center for the Study of Society and the Education Ministry, among others, the study was conducted over the past school year among a representative national sample of 10,513 children – 8,239 from the Jewish sector and 2,274 from the Arab sector – aged 12,14, and 16.
The study is the first of its kind in Israel, in that it examined the extent of the phenomenon of child abuse with a large sample of testimony from children themselves.
All the data that had been collected on child abuse in Israel so far had been based exclusively on information and cases reported to the authorities.
In the Jewish sector, almost half of the children surveyed – 48.5 percent – reported that they had experienced one or more types of abuse. In addition, the report showed that there is a very significant gap between the number of child victims of abuse known to the authorities and the number of children who indicated directly that they had been abused.
In 2012, social workers reported 48,992 children and youth on suspicion of child abuse and neglect, which constituted 1.9% of all children in Israel, compared to the 48.5% of children who reported being affected by abuse in this study.
According to the data, boys are more likely to be harmed in physical and emotional abuse, whereas girls are more likely to be victims of sexual abuse and be exposed to domestic violence within the family.
It was also found that the rate of abuse is higher with the age of the child: among 12-year-olds, 42.9% reported that they had endured some kind of violence, while 48.9% of 14-year-olds and 58% of 16-year-olds reported so.
In terms of physical abuse, 14.1% of children in the Jewish sector and 27.6% in the Arab sector reported that they had been kicked, hit or physically hurt.
In 75.5% of the cases in the Jewish sector, the person who had harmed them was a member of their family and in 13.3% of them, the child reported that their abuser had used an object such as a stick, a rock, a gun or a knife, or the like. The percentage of those who went for medical treatment was 48.9%.
About 70.9% of the Jewish children who had been physically hurt said that the harm occurred more than once and 18.8% of them said their injuries had required medical treatment.
When it comes to sexual abuse, the children surveyed were asked whether adults who they know had ever touched their private parts or had ever forced them to touch theirs.
According to the results, 17.6% of children in the Jewish sector and 22.3% of children in the Arab sector had been victims of sexual abuse.
About 8.3% of Jewish children and 11.8% of Arab children had suffered serious sexual harm.
Of the children who had been sexually abused, 46.5% in the Jewish sector and 49% in the Arab sector indicated that the abuse occurred more than once, and most of them also mentioned that it had continued over the past year.
Moreover, the vast majority indicated that their abuser was a man and over one third of the children abused said it had happened within their family.
In another study,
Reported instances of child abuse among ultra-Orthodox Jews in Beit Shemesh is on the rise, according to a recent report by Magen, a local child protection organization.
In the first six months of 2013, Magen received over 75 new cases of suspected sexual child abuse – a dramatic increase compared to the 70 new cases they received during the whole of 2012.