Between Zero and 48.5% - Child Abuse

Two statements were issued this week in Israel about the frequency of child abuse.

On the one hand, Beit Shemesh mayor Moshe Abutbul, offered a 'correction' to his televised statement that "there are no gays in our holy and pure Beit Shemesh...if there were, they should be dealt with by the Ministry of Health and police".

In a subsequent interview on Army Radio, Abutbul corrected himself by saying that he hadn't understand the term "gays" (which is an English word, not his native Hebrew) and had believed it meant "pedophiles".

Abutbul therefore apparently meant to say "there are no pedophiles in our holy and pure Beit Shemesh...if there were, they should be dealt with by the Ministry of Health and police".

Aside from the issue that the Ministry of Welfare or the Justice Ministry, would probably have been what Abutbul meant, if he was really talking about pedophiles, not the Ministry of Health, there is also the mayor's paradisical claim that there are "no pedophiles" in this city of 100,000 people.

Coincidentally, at the Knesset subcommittee on child welfare, the results of a major survey were announced this week about child abuse.

The report, under the auspices of Professors Zvi Izikowitz and Rachel Lev-Weisel of Haifa University, together with the Israel Center for the Child, published the following findings:

* 10,000 children were interviewed for the report
* These children were aged 12-17 within the state education system (ie not including National Religious and Ultra-Orthodox)
* 48.3% of the Jewish children and 67.7% of Arab children reported they had been abused.
* Abuse included physical, neglect, emotional and sexual.
* "Emotional abuse is parental cruelty that is systematically repetitive and distorts the sense of identity and esteem of the child". 28%
* "Physical abuse is ongoing, systematic and deliberate cruelty that causes pain and suffering to the victim and is related to physical harm." 16%
* "Neglect is a prolonged disregard of the physical or emotional needs of a child". 15%
* "Sexual abuse ranges from sexual harassment to gang rape". 17.6%

The conclusion of the report is that the overall incidence of child abuse (48.5%) is dramatically more than the official reports which reach the social services and police (less than 2%). 

This indicates that the rock-bottom level of under-reporting of child abuse, and the lack of child protection in the community, are the most pressing child safety issues in Israel. 

It is hard for parents to internalise the extent of child abuse - that one in two children have been abused. 

"Magen", the Beit Shemesh Child Protection organization, is providing support and advocacy for victims of child abuse and for their families - as well as raising awareness in the community and running a hotline. Magen works within the community and also cooperates closely with the Beit Shemesh social services and police.

"We are seeing the number of calls for help double each year, as word spreads in the community, and even abroad, that Magen is available to help victims of child abuse," explained Ruty Meiri, Magen's social services director. "Most of the people who call us for help, would not otherwise have reported the abuse".

"We expect this rate of increasing calls for help to continue for several more years, as awareness increases in the community and beyond. We are very aware that we are still barely scratching the surface of the child abuse problem in Beit Shemesh."

Magen is inviting the City's mayor, Moshe Abutbul, to visit Magen, in order to better understand the nature and scope of child abuse in the city, and to work together to increase the safety of children in the community.


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  1. 48.3% of Jewish children? Come on! That kind of discredits the whole study. Sexual harassment? Does that mean if an adult tells a dirty joke to a 17 year old? I don't think these are numbers that Magen should be using because it will make people think that they are distorting the true problem. 17.6% of children in Israel being sexually abused is more unbelievable than no pedophiles in Bet Shemesh

    1. The study defines abuse as "ongoing, systematic and deliberate cruelty that causes pain and suffering to the victim". Telling a one-off lewd joke would not be considered abuse for this report.

      The conclusions about the prevalence of sexual abuse of children is borne out in many other studies around the world, and is not itself news-worthy.
      For example: "An estimated 7.9% of men and 19.7% of women globally experienced sexual abuse prior to the age of 18. U.S. rates were 7.5% for males and 25.3% for females - See more at:

  2. Maybe David, The mayor would visit your center, Magen, if you would stop using your blog as a launching pad for anti abutbol comments which include accusing him of criminal activity.
    Since you are publicly involved with Leman achai and Magen, your public opinion weighs stronger than other peoples and you constantly bash the mayor. If I were him, I wouldnt want to support either of your organizations.
    Its time you do cheshbon nefesh, if you want to head up public organizations, do whats best for them and dont do libel or slander against the man you want to help you out.
    If he is guilty of criminal activity, dont worry, the police will figure it out and if he isnt, then you owe him an apolgy.

    1. Hi Anonymous - shavua tov

      I am not Moshe Abutbul's no.1 fan. Indeed I'm a part of the approx 50% of the city which would have prefered Eli Cohen to win this election.

      In this article, I (along with almost every media in Israel) am not accusing Abutbul of criminal activity - just of saying something very idiotic, and then making a further mess of the damage limitation.

      In other postings, I have also highlighted (again, nothing unique to this blog) the highly publicised allegations of election corruption in Beit Shemesh. As you must be aware, the allegations are both criminal and simply-unacceptably-nasty-campaigning.

      I have not accused Moshe Abutbol, personally, of any criminal activity, and have no grounds to do so.

      Personally, I have always got on well with Moshe Abutbul, for over 10 years. He has always been personally supportive of Lema'an Achai, although (so far) ineffectual in getting municipal resources for the organization.

      I don't know if he knows of Magen - which is relatively new.

      I am confident that Moshe is too experienced a politician, and too nice a guy, to refuse to see and appreciate Magen (or Lema'an Achai) because of my personal support via my blog of partisan politics.

      To that degree, I apparently hold Moshe Abutbul in much higher respect than you do, anonymous.

  3. My email: Please read: to learn about the predatory paedophile Godson Cult in Benevent l'Abbaye, France. This cult targets lonely retired people in France and young families with teenage daughters. Ariela Cohen.

  4. My email: I have been investigating Chris and Clare Godson for the past year and discovered that they operated child brothels in Thailand and cambodia . They were also under investigation in Ireland for setting up a child sexual abuse network patronised by influential local politicians who tried to suppress whistleblowers. If anyone has further information for us please make contact. Ariela Cohen.


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