A third of Israeli children live in poverty, study finds

Annual survey by the Israel National Council for the Child paints gloomy picture of youth

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

A young homeless man sleeps on on Jaffa Street in Jerusalem. September 16, 2013. (Photo credit: Sliman Khader/Flash90)
A young homeless man sleeps on on Jaffa Street in Jerusalem. September 16, 2013. (Photo credit: Sliman Khader/Flash90)

Over a third of Israel’s children live in poverty, an annual report from the Israel National Council for the Child revealed Sunday.

The study also found an increase in the number of investigations into child abuse and other forms of violence against children,

The extensive review, considered the most comprehensive study of the status of children in the country, was published on Sunday and submitted to President Shimon Peres at his official residence in Jerusalem.

Poverty cast a dark shadow across the report, with figures showing that over the past three decades, the percentage of poor children in Israel has quadrupled from 8.1% in 1980 to 33.7% in 2012.

A study of the Arab population showed the most dismal figures, with some 67.9% of Arab children classified as living in poverty in 2012 compared to 22.9% among Jewish children.

In total, there were 885,000 children classified as poor in the country in 2012, the INCC said.

Levels of poverty also varied according to location. In Jerusalem, 59.4% of children were considered poor, compared to 23.7% in Tel Aviv and an average of 15.9% for the central region.

Peres said the report should serve as a wake up call to everyone. “We cannot abide a situation where one in every three children is poor,” he said.

The study also revealed an uptick in reported violent incidents against children. In 2012 there were 9,399 investigations into abuse or violence against children compared to 7,909 in 2011. Of those below the age of 14 who could positively identify their attackers, 49.6% pointed at either parents or other family members.

The report also showed that while Internet, social media, and digital gadgets play a big part in the lives of most schoolchildren, they are also a source of bullying and humiliation.

Among 7-14 year-olds, 83% surf the Internet, while among 15-17 year-olds the number jumped to 97.1%. About 50% of those aged 12-17 spend between 3-5 hours a day — nearly every day — online. Some 60% of 13-18 year olds have a Facebook account, the study found, while 21% had seen humiliating a video clip of either their friends or a teacher.

In 2012, 170,940 children were born in Israel, bringing the overall total of youths to 2,626,400, or 32.9%, of the general population.

Between 1970-2012 ,the number of children in total doubled, while the number of Muslim children tripled.

Alongside their Israeli peers, by the beginning of of 2013 there were 157,000 children in Israel without citizenship and another 85,000 with no status at all. According to the report, these circumstances were the result of those who enter the country on a tourist visa and then stay beyond its expiry date.

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