Sexual Molestation Of Children On The Rise In Isreal

Recent government data shows 16% rise in sexual molestation of minors since 2000. Numbers believed to be higher since many cases go unreported. 'If the State keeps ignoring the problem nothing will change,' says Head of National Council for the Child.

The last seven years have seen a 16% rise in the number of child molestation cases, the Ministry of Social Affairs said Sunday.

Some 1,464 children were sexually assaulted by the end of the first half of 2007, and 2,623 sexual abuse cases in children were reported in 2006.

The Ministry of Social Affairs' data revealed that most children fall prey to sexual assault during the school year. Of those molested in 2006, 318 were under the age of five, 717 were between the ages of six and eight, 37.4% of those assaulted were boys and 62.6% girls.

The fickleness of numbers

The numbers, said the ministry's report, are probably higher. In many cases the victims prefer not to file a complaint against their assailants.

The assailants in child molestation cases are not always adults: in the first half of 2007, some 282 children and teenagers were interrogated by the police department's youth division, on suspicion of perpetrating sexual offenses.

Children and teenagers who were victims of sexual assault are usually treated by their municipal social workers. Since the problem began escalating, the Social Affairs Ministry has been able to secure an additional $1.25 million to its budget - all towards building eight new shelters for the long-term treatment of these children.

The Ministry of Social Affairs' report is echoed by that of the National Council for the Child: the council receives hundreds of reports a year, most of them seeking counseling on life after the assault.

"Maybe all those on strike will finally wake up; the fact that the children are devoid of structure is affecting their behavior," Dr. Itzhak Kedman, Head of the National Council for the Child told Ynet Sunday, after hearing the report on the 12-year-old girl who was allegedly drugged and raped by two 13-year-old boys.

Kedman cites three main reasons which can make children behave like sexual predator: "The main reason is the growing exposure to sexual content on the internet. The younger children are, the less likely they are to differentiate between reality and porn films," said Kedman.

The other two reasons are the judicial leniency shown to sex offenders and the lack of proper treatments given to those molested. "It's a well documented fact that children who were abused or molested grow up to be abusive adults. As long as the State continues to ignore the problem nothing will change," he added.

MK Nadia Hilou (Labor-Meimad), head of the Knesset's Committee on Rights of the Child, told Ynet that she intends to call and emergency session on the matter. "

With the educational system on strike too many minors have no one looking out for them. the committee will have to look into the recent reports of alcohol and drug sales to minors, as well as decide on the criminal liability any minors involved in such activity might be subject to," she says.

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