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Posts Tagged ‘Children’

Child Abuse: We All Pay The Price

In Children on November 21, 2010 at 00:38

The fact that abuse is a serious issue in Israeli society is disturbing enough. However, the level of underreporting of the abuse is appalling.

This is a society that has always prided itself on its independent spirit and on its citizens’ readiness to roll up their sleeves and ‘do the difficult’.

The news brings us more and more stories of murders and attempted murders within families. We are shocked, but how shocked can we be when the friends, relatives and neighbors of these children refuse to step forward and try to stop these tragedies before they occur?

In the end, it is not only these children who pay the price. Abusers are much more likely to abuse their children; victims of violence at home are much more likely to commit acts of violence outside the home. And what does it do to our spirit as a nation when we hear the cries of our children in the night and do nothing?

When we keep silent at  the abuse of our children,  the final blow strikes us all.

Child abuse underreported throughout country
By RUTH EGLASH

Jerusalem Post
November 11, 2010 04/11/2010

Percentage of sexual abuse cases reported are higher in Jerusalem; the 33,751 child abuse cases reported in 2009 “only the tip of the iceberg.”

The percentage of reports of physical and sexual abuse against children in 2009 were much higher in Jerusalem than in other parts of the country, although overall, child abuse remains underreported in every region, a new study published Wednesday by the Haruv Institute shows.

Based on the number of reports filed with the social welfare services in each district nationwide, the Haruv Institute researchers found that reports of sexual abuse in the Jerusalem area made up 25.5 percent of all reports of child abuse in the region, while 47.4% of the reported cases involved physical abuse.

These rates were significantly higher than in other parts of the country, with reports of sexual abuse in the southern region, for example, making up only 12.2% of that region’s abuse reports, and physical abuse cases accounting for 42.4% of the reports in Tel Aviv. However, reports of general neglect among the capital’s children were relatively fewer than in other regions.

In Jerusalem only 27.1% of the reports involved neglect, while in the south it was 53.8%, 45.1% in the North and 41.7% in Tel Aviv. “Neglect” is defined in several ways, including children not attending school, left unsupervised at home or wandering the streets unaccompanied.

Haruv director Prof. Hillel Schmid noted that the actual number of abuse reports in Jerusalem was relatively low compared to other regions. He told The Jerusalem Post that the high percentage of sexual or physical abuse reports in the capital was likely because only the severest or most extreme cases of abuse were reported to the authorities, while lower levels of “neglect” are often not recognized as abuse among the city’s large haredi and Arab populations.

“There seems to be a difference in the legitimization and definition of neglect among haredim and the Arabs as compared to the mainstream society,” said Schmid, a former dean of the Paul Baerwald School of Social Work and Social Welfare at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. “There is a very different approach by these communities and not every case of neglect is viewed as such.”

However, Schmid was quick to add that overall, cases of child abuse remained underreported in all sectors and regions in the country, despite a law that specifically requires the public to report cases of suspected child abuse or neglect. He said that few people come forward with information and pointed out that the 33,751 cases of child abuse reported to the social welfare services in 2009 were most likely “only the tip of the iceberg.”

The Haruv report also examined child abuse reporting in the US and Canada, noting that neglect cases in the US from 2008 constituted 65% of all reports, physical injury 18% and sexual abuse 10%, while in Canada reports of neglect made up 35%, physical abuse 27% and sexual abuse 3%.

“The higher rates of reported neglect in the US and Canada lead us to believe that North American society has a greater awareness of the need to report such abuse cases than in Israel,” said Schmid.

“The general population here is not enthusiastic about reporting cases of abuse or suspected abuse. People are not only put off by the bureaucracy, where they have to fill out paperwork and give personal information, but in addition, we are a much more violent society than in the past and we either don’t notice the abuse or don’t feel it is important to report.”

He said that along with its research, the Haruv Institute had already started working with family doctors and pediatricians at health funds and hospitals, training them to recognize signs of violence and abuse among children and encouraging cooperation between medical professionals and social workers.

“In many places doctors do not know the social workers and there is little coordination,” said Schmid, adding that many doctors are not familiar with the signs of child abuse.

The Haruv Institute was founded three years ago by the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation with the goal of becoming a world center for advanced research in the field of child abuse within the family in Israel.

The institute also works closely with the Welfare and Social Services Ministry and in training all professionals that work with children.

When Murder Comes Home…

In Violence in Israeli Society on November 15, 2010 at 01:54

Firends and neighbors of 26 yo Ethiopian woman murdered by her husband

Unlike news stories about politics and global intrigue, murder rarely makes it into Israel’s English-language media. Perhaps it is deemed unfit for international consumption. So when an entire series of articles appears in YNet News,  the Jerusalem Post and Ha’aretz,  it is not business-as-usual.

In this deeply family-oriented society, the sheer number of family members murdered by their own flesh-and-blood in the past several weeks has hit a nerve.

I can’t speak for all Israelis but as I scan the headlines and see the names of veteran Israelis, Ethiopian and Russian immigrants,  Arabs and Bedioun, men, women and children from big cities, small towns and villages all grieving for sons, daughters, spouses, children and grandchildren, I no longer find myself asking “when will it end?” but, rather, “which of us will be next ?”

 

Pregnant woman murdered in South Tel Aviv
The Eritrean citizen in her fourth month of pregnancy was found dead in her apartment.

Ha’Aretz 12.11.10

By Yaniv Kubovich and Yanir Yagna

A migrant worker originally from Eritrea was found without signs of life in her South Tel Aviv apartment on Friday night. The woman, in her 30s, was apparently four months pregnant. Police are investigating all possibilities.

The woman’s brother had been trying to reach her for several hours, but she didn’t answer his calls. He arrived at the scene and found her already dead. The brother called emergency aid workers and the police, who are currently searching for the woman’s husband.

In June, a woman in her eighth month of pregnancy was murdered in Ashdod after entering into an argument with her neighbor. The woman’s fetus was delivered in an emergency c-section operation.

The Ashdod police arrested the neighbor, a 38-year-old woman, suspected of having stabbed the victim to death after the latter had spilled coffee in her doorway.

Netanya couple seriously hurt in suspected murder-suicide attempt
Man, 34, allegedly shot his wife while their 3-year-old daughter was in the apartment; incident comes as the latest of several recent cases of severe domestic violence.

By Yaniv Kubovich

An attempted murder suicide left a Netanya couple in serious condition, police said on Saturday, in the latest in a string of domestic violence cases in recent weeks.

A preliminary probe of the event lead police investigators to believe the man, 34, shot his wife in the head, later trying to commit suicide. The woman, who was evacuated to the city’s Laniado hospital, is in critical, with the husband is in serious condition after suffering gun shot wounds to the chest.

The couple’s 3-year-old daughter was reported to have been present in the apartment on Netanya’s Etzel street during the incident.

Late last month, a man allegedly stabbed his wife to death before taking his own life in Petah Tikva.

Paramedics who arrived on the scene confirmed the death of the 43-year-old man, who had hanged himself. His wife, 32, was taken to Beilinson Hospital to the Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva in critical condition. She succumbed to her wounds shortly after arriving at the hospital.

Neighbors had apparently heard shouting from the apartment and alerted police. When police arrived, they spotted the man, who had hanged himself from the grating of the apartment’s balcony. They then entered the apartment and found the wife in the living room with stab wounds covering most of her body.

The couple had immigrated to Israel from their native Ethiopia in 2007. They had no children and no previous police record.

On Wednesday, Police arrested a woman in the central Israeli city of Ra’anana suspected of killing her two daughters. [see story below]

 

Police: Mom murdered 2 girls

Mother admits to strangling two girls aged four, six in Raanana home, according to police

YNET 11.10.10

Raanan Ben-Zur

The bodies of two girls aged four and a half and six were found strangled Wednesday in the apartment they shared with their parents in Raanana.

Paramedics arrived to find the girls dead. Police questioned the mother, Michal Aloni, who was found in the apartment along with them, and say she admitted to the murder. “I took their lives,” police say the mother confessed.

The girls were identified as Roni and her older sister Natalie. The mother’s 42-year-old brother was also arrested because he was in the apartment at the time of the murders.

The girls’ father, who has four children from a previous marriage, was also detained for questioning. His first wife fainted upon arriving at the scene. He said he was the one who alerted rescue forces, after arriving home to find his daughters dead.

In addition, a preliminary investigation has revealed that the mother has been institutionalized in the past. Magen David Adom spokesman Zaki Heller described the events. “At 1:20 pm we received a call about two children found dead in an apartment in Raanana. The paramedics found two girls lying lifeless in their beds,” he said.

The suspected murder is the last in a string of incidents in which parents took violent turns towards their offspring, the previous one occurring in Tel Aviv, where a mother threw her two small children from a fourth-floor window.

Before that, in July, Itai Ben Dror stabbed his three children to death in their sleep, and then attempted to take his own life in his Netanya home.

Child Victimization: First By The Pedophile, Then By The Law

In Crime in Israel on October 13, 2010 at 00:14

 

What is the opposite of a “victimless crime”? Perhaps a crime in which the victim is victimized first by the criminal and then by the System.

That is what happens 50% of the time in cases of sexual assault of children at least the way the law is currently written in Israel.

Apparently, the current law does not allow the testimony of children, brought to the court by  investigators specially-trained to work with child victims, to be the sole evidence on the basis of which a criminal case can proceed.

Let me translate that into reality for you. A child with the courage to report having suffered a terrible violation goes to the police. The police investigate. In the pursuit of protection and, perhaps, justice, the child tells his/her horrendous story. No other witnesses? The case gets thrown out for lack of evidence. A pedophile walks free.

I know that the wheels of justice turn slowly. I know that our country is scrambling to come to terms with the dark side of being a truly modern Western Democracy. I know that lawmakers are working to patch this hole in the fabric of our justice system.

Now explain that to a child…

 

50% Of Rape Cases Are Closed For Lack Of Evidence

Oct. 12, 2010

News1.co.il

Liat HaLevi

260 sex crime cases were closed with no criminal record

Knesset Member and Chairman of the Child Rights Committee Danny Danon: “Every day dozens of sex offenders who harm children are freed. We must change the law to enable criminals to be convicted”

38% of sex offenses closed between 2002 and 2009 were closed due to insufficient evidence. 50% of rape cases closed were closed for the same reason.

This data is part of a Knesset Research and Information Center document prepared for the Committee on the Rights of the Child for a discussion to be held today (Tuesday, 12:10:10) regarding the authorities’ handling of reports of sexual offenses against children and youth.

Committee Chairman MK Danny Danon responded: “Every day dozens of sex offenders who harm children are freed. The system is unable to convict these pedophiles, so we must change the law to enable the conviction of these criminals without causing additional harm to the children.”

Danon explained that the most problematic point is that the testimony of child investigators and the documentation of the investigation can not be accepted as the sole evidence for convicting the accused.

Unreported Crimes

A survey conducted by the Carob Institute a year ago, showed that only 55% of those who observed parents violating children reported it to the authorities. Those who did not report, noted that they did not do so due to embarrassment and fear, or not knowing to whom to turn. About a quarter of respondents claimed that they would not know to whom to turn in the case of a violation against a child.

A survey conducted by the Institute in April 2010 also found confusion among respondents regarding in which cases there is a duty to report, regarding the possibility of a false accusation lawsuit being filed against the person who reported and as to whether one can file a report anonymously.

According to Dr. Hanita Cimeren, President of the Association for the Protection of Children, “When an investigation file is closed or the attacker is exonerated, the victim is forced to experience another wave of injury that now includes frustration against the system and a blow to his or her basic confidence in its ability to protect the victim. Therefore, the findings of this study are very serious, that 260 cases  opened in 2009 for sex offenses by youth were closed on the condition of psychological treatment. Since these procedures are closed without producing a criminal record for the suspects, they are referred to the youth probation service. “

 

 

Peace, Politics & A Stabbing in a Church

In violence prevention on April 25, 2010 at 12:31

Strange Contrast: A Stabbing in The Church & Peace Among Warriors

You’ve probably noticed by now that I avoid political discussion. It’s not that I am not interested in politics. Here in Israel, politics is not only THE “national sport”, it is a matter of survival. It is too close too close to my heart to remain in my head.  And I am not the only one who feels that way.

Take the story below, for instance. What motivated the stabbing in The Church? Is it anti-Christian terrorism? Is it internecine violence? Or is it a lone crazy with a knife? The facts are not yet known but your opinion as to how the facts will play out will probably depend on your beliefs, your knowledge and your fears. Not on the statistics. Your heart, not your head.

All of which brings me to this past weekend. Every three months or so, I get together with this very unusual group of martial artists collectively known as Budo For Peace (BFP).

Budo For Peace is a non-profit organization founded and led by Danny Hakim, a high-ranking teacher of Shotokan Karate. Danny travels the world to train and compete. During a get-together in Japan, he was struck by the fact that, when adherents to the practice and values of the martial arts get together, they work in harmony despite the political climate outside the door. Iranians, Iraqis, Afghanis, Americans, Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Jews- as long as TV cameras keep their distance, the participants’ common purpose blurred the political, religious and social lines between them.

Danny returned to Israel with a dream. With the help of a Japanese government grant and donors like 1-2-1 in Britain and Sugat in Israel, he  created Budo For Peace, an organization of instructors  from a wide range of populations, Jewish, Arab, Druse and Bedouin, who teach traditional martial arts- Karate, Aikido, Ju-jitsu, etc.- to  students ages 9-13 and 14-16,  together with the arts’ traditional values: honesty, loyalty, courage, gentleness, kindness, respect and so on. BFP’s Values Education curriculum is based on  a book written by American martial arts instructor Terrence Webster-Doyle.

Three to four times a year, the instructors spend Thursday-Friday working out together, learning games and teaching strategies, planning activities and, most importantly, practicing what they preach, creating an Island of Peace in which the bonds between them take center stage and the world, with all its conflicts, melts away.

When I was first invited to take part in Budo For Peace, I recoiled. It was inconceivable to me that a gathering of Israeli Arabs and Jews would not be rife with hand-wringing and propaganda. I told Danny I would come but, at the first hint of a political agenda, I told him “I’m out of there”.  I never left. Even though I have no BFP dojo of my own, I have continued to attend these sessions for three years.

Sometimes, when we are all sitting in the classroom, joking around like a group of grade-schoolers, I take a mental leap back and realize that I am living a dream, that for 20 hours, as John Lennon might say “the world is one”.

How strange that it is the so-called “Fighting Arts” that  create the framework for such a peaceful gathering. How strange and, yet, how fitting. When people of good will have confidence in themselves and in their ability to stand their ground,  then they have the power to choose how to respond, rather than to react to the world around them.

When the Head, The Heart and the Body are one, then the world can live as one.

Tourist Shot After Attacking Church Goers

Man seriously wounded in chest, leg after trying to stab worshipers, policemen in Church of Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem; his identity and motive unclear

Shmulik Grossman

April 23, 2010

YNETnews.com

A tourist was shot by a policeman on Friday evening after trying to stab worshipers and police officers at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. One police officer was lightly injured in the incident.

The officer ordered the tourist to put his knife down, but the man refused and threatened to hurt one of the worshipers. He then attempted to stab a policeman as well.

A Magen David Adom crew dispatched to the area attended to the tourist, who sustained serious wounds, and evacuated him to the Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem. A hospital official said he was injured in the leg and chest. His identity is unknown.

The security forces are looking into the incident and the stabber’s motives.

According to eyewitnesses, two priests and a policeman had asked the worshipers to leave the church just before its closing hour. When they approached the tourist, he pulled out a knife and after refusing to put it down, the policeman sprayed him with tear gas. The tourist was shot after rioting and threatening to hurt one of the worshipers.

The officer who shot the tourist said he aimed at the upper part of the man’s body after he had tried to stab him and a priest standing next to him. A police investigation revealed that the tourist arrived in Israel on Friday, bought the knife in the Old City and hid it between his clothes.

Many Christians believe Jesus was crucified, buried and then resurrected at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

The Same Old Song Without The Dance

In Children on March 21, 2010 at 03:10

Self-defense instruction meets The Dangers of the Internet

One of the truly important things we have done at El HaLev is to create a nationally-recognized course for training self-defense instructors. The course consists of  instruction in sport-related anatomy, physiology, psychology and class planning and then, practical training from the most experienced instructors in El HaLev (including yours truly) in the art of teaching self-defense skills . All of the young women currently taking the course have a strong background in the martial arts, which will help them learn, apply and adapt the physical skills we teach. However, they understand, and we drill it in as much as humanly possible, that physical techniques are not the be-all-and-end-all of teaching self-defense— not by a long shot.

This past Wednesday, the trial of Avinoam Breverman got underway. Breverman  is accused of the rape, sodomy, and sexual assault of three girls he met on the Internet, ages 11, 13, and 14. Brevermen admits having conversations with the girls, but denies he had sexual contact with them. At his trial, even Brevermen’s lawyer stated that he is worried about what happens on the Internet: “Besides the offenses attributed to my client, which will be clarified during the trial, I am concerned and appalled at the level and content of conversations among  minors. We are talking about sexually-explicit expressions and coarse language used even by children aged 11 to 14.”

Now you can just imagine what a fire storm about the Dangers of The Internet this case has caused. And yet, I am fairly certain that not one of our self-defense instructor candidates was or has ever been approached by her Sensei and taught how to handle herself on the Internet, and certainly not how to teach others  effective Internet strategies in a way that will strengthen rather than frighten them. However, this is one of the many things self-defense instructors here and everywhere must learn, and most often, teach themselves.

When I address this issue with our SD instructor candidates, I plan to give them each a copy of the article below, in the original Hebrew of course, because, in the end, I think the most important thing for them to know about staying safe on the Internet is that it is not all that different from staying safe anywhere. It’s the same old song without the dance: being aware of the tactics criminals use, trusting your intuition, being assertive, getting out of there, telling someone what happened, and continuing to tell until someone offers your help. As for your trophy-winning martial arts form and your  fancy spinning jump kick, you can save them for more appropriate occasions.

Protect children – Not just online

The arrest of a suspect in the sexual assault of young girls again raises concern about the dangers online. But it is important to remember that the children are in danger everywhere and that we can protect them – even without violating their privacy

Ilana Brodo

Y-Net, Feb. 2, 2010

Yesterday (Monday) two things happened that reminded us all, including me, of the precarious situation of children in the “Wild West” that is the Internet.

While in Tel-Aviv, a man was arrested on suspicion of using the Internet to access and attack many young girls, in Jerusalem the Economic Committee held a special meeting with the youth participation concerning ways to protect children online, in which, among the proposals were the expected government censorship, software for filtering sites and of course talk, talk, talk.

Whether a special curriculum, or even subsidized courses for parents, there seem to be plenty of ideas. But according to reports, the exploitation of tender young girls at the hands of criminals seems inevitable. The question is, why?

Maybe there are some important points that the current approach of educating children to use the Web wisely is missing. Maybe we forgot a few essential things.

Dangers Are Everywhere

The Internet is not the only place where your child is in danger. Also in the street, at school, while crossing the road, spending time with friends or a school trip- countless dangers, including those same  evil people, threaten your child at any time.
So why does the Internet seem to be such a focus of pedophile activity? The answer is simple – on the global network, you can choose how old you want to be and how you choose to introduce yourself. Even photos and videos can be quite easily faked, if you are wondering when the mask is removed and the predator is detected.

The Internet is a place where it is easy to create connections, make friends and talk with complete strangers about just about anything. On the other hand, there is no shortage of places where a child can meet a pedophile, whether at the home of a private teacher, the parent of a friend or a guard at the mall near school. The Internet cannot be held responsible.

If that is so, then the tips are the same tips and the information is the same information: do not take candy from strangers and don’t meet up with people you don’t know. The Internet is a medium. Although it is too successful a medium for these stalkers, t in the end, the Internet is merely a means.

The other thing many forget is that we used to be children. We worried parents were once children- curious, innocent and perhaps even vulnerable. It is important to look at  this issue first, from the perspective of a child, and then from that of the pedophile, despite the difficulty of doing so.

The Inner Child

There is no doubt that when we were children, as our personalities began to crystallize, we also needed personal space in which to operate and a degree of privacy. We did not want our parents reading our diaries we preferred a degree of independence in deciding for ourselves. It’s easy to forget, but your child thinks the same way so, that you did.

No force in the universe can stop a 14 year-old from acquiring pornographic material, and these materials were always available – whether in print, video or, today, digitally.

As it is for pedophilia, so here, the Internet is only the medium, the means whose face has changed with the progress of technology and society. Sites of any kind, like restricting the sale of pornographic magazines to18 year-olds and older: ways to bypass the restrictions were found in the past, and will be found in the future.

Many Internet guides for protecting children encourage parents to install technology to restrict access to sites with child-appropriate content, to regularly look into the child’s affairs and even to remove the PC from the child’s room.

Wouldn’t this kind of intrusion into the child’s privacy force him to find alternatives? Infringement of a child’s privacy, given that his information on the computer is indeed for him a personal thing, would be interpreted as an attack. For this reason, intruding into his or her computer should be reserved only for cases in which you suspect your child is in real danger.

So if you shouldn’t pry, what can parents do to keep their child safe from the schemes of evil people on the Internet?

Know The Enemy

Before you try to understand the online lives of your children, it is at least worthwhile to learn the difference between a browser and a torrent program. We did a little bit of detective work and checked out the pages of our children on their social networks. These pages are open to everyone, so it is worthwhile for you to know what information your progeny are publishing there.

For example, it happened to reach my ears that the father of a 13 year-old daughter forbade her to put her picture on her Facebook profile. As an alternative, the young teen chose a photograph of a model wearing a revealing swimsuit. As a result, the indecent proposals that she received in her private messages and on her Wall appeared in worrying numbers.

Some guides also advise parents to supervise their kids whenever they are online. The age at which you can give a child privacy on the computer, in my humble opinion, is no different than the age at which they can cross the street or to go out with friends without supervision. On the Internet, similar to other life situations that can, at time, be dangerous, what will determine the outcome, in the end, is the use of discretion.

It is important to explain to your child the dangers of the Net. Without a doubt, it is better to inform him of the existence of bad people than to have him find out for himself – perhaps in a chat room intended for children only.
More than “explaining”, however, it is important to listen. Take an interest  in the sites your children surf as much as you do in their experiences on school breaks or at their cousins’ house this weekend. Share with them interesting sites that are appropriate for them, and ask them for recommendations.

At the end of the day, protecting your child on the Internet is the same as protecting him/her elsewhere. The difference determines the outcome, in most cases, is not content filtering or the location of the computer, but that same use of discretion and critical thinking that parents must help their children acquire, rather than aggressively guarding them for as long as they will put up with it.

Drowning in a Sea of Child Victims… & Assailants

In Children on March 14, 2010 at 02:43
A suspect in the repeated rape of a girl from Northern Israel

Young suspected gang rapist

It occurred to me, after last week’s post, that I had not adequately explained that the sexual assault case being discussed was not the first case of its kind this year. It was proceeded by a case of a girl in Northern Israel who had over several years, allegedly from the age of 10, been a regular target of sexual abuse at the hands of local youths.

I will spare you the details. Needless to say, it was a horrific case. If anything positive came out of it, it was a widespread awareness of the issue and of the problems the system is having in trying to deal with this emerging phenomenon.

I leave you in the capable hands of reporter Yael Barnovsky , whose background report in on Y-net was absolutely chilling. I hope my translation in English does her report justice…

Sexual Assaults: 700 Children Have No One To Report Them To

Recent horrendous incidents of sexual violence against children have caught the Welfare Ministry with hundreds of children waiting for investigators. 250 complaints were received since the beginning of the month, just in Tel – Aviv…

YNET

Feb. 11, 2010

Yael Barnovsky

A string of high-profile cases of sexual violence against children, culminating in the case of gang rape of a child in the North, finds the Ministry of Social Affairs with a severe shortage of Child Investigators. Some 250 complaints were received over the first ten days of the month (February) in Tel – Aviv alone. About 700 children are waiting their turn to be questioned by Child Investigators, but there is no one to conduct the investigations. The increase in referrals is attributed to the high media exposure of the murder of 7 year-old Leon Kalanatrov of Bnei Ayish, which placed the issue heavily on the agenda.

When a complaint of sexual assault reaches the police, if the offenders and / or victims are under age 14, the law stipulates that they be investigated by Child Investigators from the Office of Welfare, and only then are the findings presented to police investigators and the courts.

Requests for Child Investigators came mainly from the police, but they also come from parents who file complaints through the education system. Under Ronit Tzur, the Welfare Office’s Triage Officer, a total of 57 Child Investigators serve the entire country. For the last several months, they have been operating in emergency mode, their vacations canceled.

Retired Judge Saviona Rotalvi, whom Ynet interviewed extensively on the subject, also emphasized the difficult situation faced by the Child Investigators: “Whenever an event occurs, the media cries out and then forgets. The situation of the Child Investigators is catastrophic. Years and years of cutbacks have made is so those children who should be interviewed immediately are only investigated after weeks and months. Every time a story is exposed, there is an outcry, but no real search for true solutions – I am very upset by this situation.”

During a hearing held yesterday by the ministerial committee handling the problem of pedophilia, Welfare Minister Isaac Herzog discussed the manpower shortage and said he cannot cope with this phenomenon if he is not assigned an additional 35 special investigators. “Instead of emphasizing trains and balconies, you should take care of people,” he said to Ynet, criticizing the  energy invested by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in promoting economic reforms.

Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch told the committee that the volume of this phenomenon has increased on the Internet has increased and is taking up more and more space so that his office too needs increased financial allocations to manage it. Committee Chairman Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman said it is clear that in order to combat these phenomena more funds must be recruited. The team concluded that, at its next meeting that each department will submit all their specific budgetary requirements.

Meanwhile, the ministerial staff made a number of decisions:

• to expand the reporting obligation of any person who suspects sex offenses against minors
• to examine the possibility of wider public notification regarding the presence of sex offenders
• to speed up resolutions to the question of rehabilitation of sex offenders and on-going supervision after release and examine the possibilities for medical treatment
• to reduce waiting times for investigation by increasing the number of investigators

• to coordinate activities of those authorities that deal with sexual assault

Instead Of Receiving Sex Education – They Learn From Porn Sites

Sexual assault of children is a widespread phenomenon with which Israeli society has difficulty dealing. According to data from the Council for the Child, in 2009, 2,450 children under the age of 14 fell victim to sexual assault. About a third of them were children younger than 9, a third ages 9-11 and another third, ages 12-14. About half the children were hurt by a friend or neighbor. In about 324 cases the perpetrators were themselves children under 14, in about five such cases, under the age of 12. About 95 percent of the perpetrators were boys.

The national average for children affected by sexual assault stands at about 4.1 per thousand. The “leading” cities for reported child sexual assault, according to the Council for the Child, were Tel-Aviv (8.6 per thousand), Or Yehuda (8.6), Eilat (11.4), Bat Yam (10.6), Nesher (12.1), Afula (11.8) and Pardes Hanna (9).

Welfare authorities, drowning in a sea of shocking cases, point an accusing finger at the educational system, and claim that is not investing enough in sex education. There are even schools in which no workshops on sexual assault are offered, and the primary source of information from which children derive information the subject is from porn sites on the Internet. According to data from the welfare system and Israeli Rape Crisis Centers, in recent years there has been a dramatic decline in the ages of both victims and perpetrators of sexual assault. Similarly, more and more cases are coming to light involving groups of children – whether speaking of incidents of gang rape, or of injury to dozens of children by a pedophile.

“Minors at this stage of their lives are very curious, and practically the only information they receive comes from porn sites,” said Attorney Inbar Yehezkeli-Blilos, the legal adviser of the Central Association of Rape Crisis Centers to Ynet. “Schools must provide more workshops on the subject .Children are exposed to pornography and try to reproduce those same behaviors, which seems to them normative, even in real life. Unfortunately, some schools do not want us – because of their obvious fear that complaints will suddenly arise.

“Blame the victim”

Sometimes, minor or minors who become victims of sexual exploitation, present themselves as if they agreed to what was done to them. However, according to all the experts, at age 10 and even at age 14,  children are not really capable of making independent decisions. “The police and the judiciary often see the victims as ‘seducers’ and are not able to see the back story  ,” says Attorney Yehezkeli. “There are judges, investigators and lawyers who know how to conduct themselves, but still there are those that hold patriarchal views, blame the victim and throw the blame on them. The police are, at times, very often sympathetic to the perpetrators.”

Stepping Up To The Plate

In Sexual Assault on February 10, 2010 at 14:19

Last night, I had the honor and pleasure of instructing in Tel Aviv as part of one of our IMPACT Self-Defense teams. Nothing strange about that. What IS unusual is that IMPACT-Israel is currently running THREE IMPACT courses simultaneously: a women’s course on Sunday mornings in Jerusalem, a Teen course for at-risk teens in Rishon L’Zion and, now, this new evening women’s course  in Tel Aviv.

The good news is, word is getting out about IMPACT. IMPACT is such a powerful  experience for participants and staff alike, and word-of-mouth is the mainstay of our success. Happily, a growing number of our students seem to be coming to us through referrals from therapists who see IMPACT as part of the sexual assault survivor’s process of recovery and reintegration. It is very gratifying to speak with mental health professionals who see us as part of the “treatment team”.

The bad news, of course, is in the headlines. Just take a look at the article below: “Sharp rise in sexual assault; 15% of the victims are younger than 13”. The women who are coming to us are the brave ones, the ones who read the articles, see the news and say to themselves: “I’d better do something about this.” Just by picking up the phone, these women are demonstrating the essence of personal empowerment: Stepping up to the plate.

Perhaps that is the reality of our situation. As martial arts instructors and self-instructors of every stripe, perhaps we can only to reach those who are already strong enough to reach out and grasp the tools we offer. Or perhaps there are ways for us to reach out that could enable us to reach those not quite ready to make the call. To prevent a potential trip to a hospital Sexual Assault Unit. To change the identity of the patient in the ambulance from that of the potential victim to that of the attempted assailant.

In essence, like our students, we too must begin from a place of believing that we can succeed only if we are willing to embody the change we seek.  So please feel free to share your “why-don’t-you-try?”s or “this-has-worked-for us”s. We are listening and, I hope,  courageous enough to step up to the plate.

Sharp rise in sexual assault: 15% of the victims are younger than 13

The Rape Crisis Center at Wolfson Hospital in Holon publicized that, within the last decade, the number of women referring themselves for treatment has risen 600%. “Every year Israel is becoming more dangerous for women”, said the Director of the Women’s Health & Maternity Unit at the hospital and, according to its Director of Social Work Services , “we long ago lost our morality as a society”.

Translation by Jill Shames from the Hebrew article on NRG

Tomer Valmar | 9/2/2010 10:14

The Center for Victims of Sexual Assault at Wolfson Hospital in Holon has publicized that, in 2009, 360 women came to the Center for treatment, an increase of 600% over the year 2000. Data published by the Center shows that almost a third of the victims are under 18, and that, in most cases, the sexual assault is accompanied by physical violence.

The Center for Victims of Sexual Assault at Wolfson Hospital in Holon was founded in 2000. For eight years, it was the only place in Israel designed for this purpose. In its first year of operation, sixty women came for treatment, which is now handled by six sexual assault survivors.

Data from the Center given to Maariv (an Israeli newspaper), indicated an increase in the number of cases of sexual assault using physical force that required medical intervention and, sometimes, prolonged hospitalization. According to the Director of the Women’s Health & Maternity Unit at the hospital, Prof. Abraham Golan, since the Wolfson Center was the only place offering specialized therapy for victims of sexual assault until two years ago, the data is indicative of a national trend.

“We are talking about a very disturbing picture signifying that, every year, Israeli society is becoming more violent and more dangerous for women,” said Prof Golan. According to the Center’s data, 40% of the attacks, 37% of which were assaults of girls 18-14, occurred on weekends. It also showed that older women are usually attacked at night while girls are attacked mainly in the afternoon hours.

Reaching the hospital within 24 hours

Even the places where the attacks occur vary by age: While girls aged 14-17 are most often attacked in public places like gardens or playgrounds, women aged 18-25 are most likely to be attacked at the home of the attacker. Attacks against older women usually occur in the woman’s own home.

In addition, according to Prof. Golan, there has been a sharp increase in recent years of women being attacked while they are under the influence of alcohol. Women aged 18-25 are the most likely group to be under the influence of alcohol when they are victimized. Doctors at the Center said that, many times, these women arrive at the hospital unconscious, unclothed and with no memory of what happened to them or who attacked them.

Dr. Giulia Barda, the gynecologist in charge of the therapeutic center explains: “In the wake of a sexual assault, it is advisable to get to the hospital within 24 hours, in order to enable us to find evidence of injury and the presence of alcohol and drugs during examination. Similarly, rapid treatment is very effective in preventing unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. ‘

The hospital’s Social Work Service Director Sima Oren added: “The feeling is that, as a society, we long ago lost our morality, and that, in most cases, these women are subjected to psychological damage that is very difficult to cure.”

Predators On-Line: When Virtual Becomes Reality

In Children, Crime in Israel on February 5, 2010 at 02:22

Internet predators & pedophiles chat in Hebrew too

Parents in Israel are used to fighting for the security of their children, but the battlefield keeps shifting. Not that the days of parents warning children to stay away from suspicious packages and people wearing strange clothing that might conceal bombs.  However, a glance at the latest news or the latest edition of David Morris’s blog Tzedek-Tzedek (see below) reminds us that there are  dangers lurking in what should be the  safest places on Earth- right inside our homes.

Yes, Virginia, Internet predators and pedophiles chat in Hebrew too.

Parenting has always been hard work. It used to be that at least we could fantasize that if we locked our children in our homes and threw away the keys, they’d be safe.  Now, the Internet brings the outside world right in. We can no longer afford the illusion that we’re in control, that we can somehow keep our children and teens blissfully ignorant AND out of harm’s way.

My mother tells me that the first time she gave me permission to ride my bicycle off of our street, she stood by the window crying until she saw me riding home. By the time I came in the door, she had taken out an onion and started cutting it so I would think her tears were caused by the onion, not her fears for my safety. We all have to find our “onions”, our ways to keep from infecting our children with our fears. But we owe it to them to give them the tools they need to be as free AND as safe as possible in the world they live in— the Cyber world as well as the “real” one.

So, here’s a place to begin: some advice to share with the youngsters in your life about staying safe while chatting online

  • Be careful who you trust. Remember, no matter how long you have been in contact with them or how nice they seem, online friends are really strangers. And they may not be who they say they are.
  • Meeting in person someone you met online can be dangerous. If you feel that you ‘have to’ meet, tell your parent or caretaker and take them with you – at least the first time you meet. Meet only in a public place in daytime. And do not leave with them without informing your parent or caretaker where you are going and with whom.
  • Keep personal information personal. Your name, address, telephone number, mobile number, private email address, and picture: These are examples of personal information that can end up in the hands of people you don’t want to have it. Check your profile and remove personal information. Don’t share this information with people you meet online, even if they ask you for it. Let them know that it’s a matter of your safety. If they insist, that shows that they don’t care about you. Are these that kind of people you want as friends?
  • When in doubt, log out: Get away from an uncomfortable situation in a chat room by logging out or by changing your screen name.
  • Think twice before you answer private messages. Private chats can end up being more personal than you might want. It can be harder to end a conversation in a private chat than on a public chat. If you are on a private chat and something makes you uncomfortable, trust your intuition. If something feels wrong, something IS wrong. Log out.
  • Use a nickname, not your real name. Try to choose a nickname that is less likely to attract the type of attention you might feel uncomfortable dealing with.
  • Look out for your friends: Speak up if you think that they are at risk.
  • Tell your parent or caretaker if someone or something happens online that makes you feel uncomfortable or worried.
  • Go to www.chatdanger.com to learn important online self-defense skills like how to keep/save a copy of the conversation in chat , how to block/ignore people and how to report something you feel uncomfortable about.

OK everyone! Grab those onions, go in there and help somebody you love stay safe.

How Many Kids Can One Man Abuse?

Police lifted a gag order Monday detailing the arrest of 33-year-old Avinoam Braverman, of Tel Aviv, alleged to have contacted some 1,000 minors, engaging some in virtual sex in front of web cams and of raping, sodomizing and molesting others, as well as possession and distribution of child pornography,…http://www.jpost.com/Headlines/Article.aspx?id=167472
In a society which promotes loyal monogamy as being the ideal sexual relationship – one partner for each of us –  the popular assumption is that one pedophile will also approximate to one child victim.

Very few of us are aware that research has consistently shown that (and this is staggering) around one in four girls and one in six boys has been sexually abused by the age of 18. (Russell, 1986; confirmed also Gorey & Leslie 1997; Finkelhor, Hotaling, Lewis & Smith 1989; Brier & Elliot, 2003).
And in the sole major survey amongst Jewish orthodox women (Yehuda et al, 2007), 26% of the women surveyed reported sexual abuse, with 16% reporting the abuse occurred by the age of thirteen. In other words, sexual abuse of females is consistent with the findings for the general population. (Some have suggested that the number of male victims may be higher in the orthodox community, because access is far less restricted in orthodox communities than for males on females – but there has been no scientific survey yet on this).

This startlingly high incidence of child abuse victims, in all populations, however does not mean that this proportion of adults (between one in four, to one in six) are pedophiles.

There have been various distinctions drawn (R.Weiss, 2009) on the characteristics of pedophiles, including these categories:

  1. Dedicated or Fixated Child Offender – adults who are usually solely sexually attracted to children.
  2. Situational or Regressed Child Offender – adults whose sexual attentions wander to children, often due to extraneous pressures.
  3. Sexually Addicted Offender – exhibiting similar compulsive traits to substance or gambling addictions, some adults have increased and obsessive needs for sexual stimulation, sometimes including relationships with children.

The majority (85%) of child sex offenders are in the second category; these offenders can often be successfully treated through therapy. Sexual addiction (category 3) is a quite common psychological condition affecting between 3-5 % of the general population; very few of these people resort to non-consensual sex; treatment for this addictive behavior has been often found successful.

The most damaging pedophiles, in terms of numbers of victims, are the dedicated or fixated child offenders; they will often achieve positions of access, trust and authority over children, such as becoming sports coaches, summer camp or youth group supervisors, babysitters, clerics or educators – specifically in order to gain unfettered access to their victims. Some will even marry a partner who already has children, for this same reason. The perpetrators develop sophisticated ‘grooming’ techniques (sometimes in collusion with other pedophiles) and in practice they know that only very few children will ever register formal complaints against these perpetrators (sometimes the children do not become consciously aware that they were even abused until they reach adulthood themselves), so the numbers of their victims over a pedophile’s ‘career’ (which can continue through their senior years) can reach staggering proportions. There is little prospect of these pedophiles being ‘cured’ by available therapies, and recidivism (repeat offense) rates are high (around 75% of convicted child sex offenders).

A study by Abel et al32 of 377 nonincarcerated, non-incest-related pedophiles, whose legal situations had been resolved and who were surveyed using an anonymous self-report questionnaire, found that heterosexual pedophiles on average reported abusing 19.8 children and committing 23.2 acts, whereas homosexual pedophiles had abused 150.2 children and committed 281.7 acts

Another study (Baker) concluded that men who chose girls, generally victimized relatively few while a man who preys on non-related boys “will victimize as many as 280 male victims”.

These studies confirm law enforcement reports about the serial nature of the crime, the large number of children abused by each pedophile, and the underreporting of assaults.

What appears different from the ‘classic’ behavior patterns of pedophiles in the Braverman case is the alleged extensive use of the internet and messaging technologies, and his targeting of multiple young girls.

However, that Braverman was apparently able to readily reach so many actual and prospective victims, seemingly without multiple reports by either the child victims or their parents to the authorities – is deeply shocking, but unfortunately not unusual.

Do The Difficult

In empowerment on February 1, 2010 at 02:20

Children can be taught to "do the difficult". Telling on bullies or abusers is an act of courage & strength

Sometimes the road to sanity is the steepest road, the things we most do, the most difficult: Putting our own fears aside so we can teach our children how to deal successfully with theirs. Or finally gathering our strength, like the foster mother in the story below,  to report something to the authorities knowing that we will have to take responsibility for what we have done… and have not done for no other reason than because it is the right thing to do.

My silence on this blog until now reflects more than a month of preparing  for another year of heavy yet vital  responsibilities as the Executive Director of El HaLev, a 24-hour period of sudden clarity, and the results of that clarity .

I resigned as the Executive Director of El HaLev.

I do not yet know where the path ahead will lead me. I know that my work as a martial artist and self-defense instructor is far from over. It is simply taking a new road.

But knowing that doesn’t still my sadness at leaving my friends & colleagues- the staff of El HaLev. I have been Executive Director for only one year but I have been part of El HaLev from its conception. Clearing out my office and walking out othat door , was like stepping off a cliff into the mist.  Change may be inevitable but it is rarely easy.

I am trying not to lose the momentum I have gained by being strong enough to “do the difficult”, not to take the easy road of settling back into old patterns and familiar ways. In fact, just last night I signed up for a Mindfulness Meditation Retreat — Mid- February, 6 days: no social conversation, no reading, writing or music, just time and opportunity to search for and reclaim my Center. A chance to turn down the noise of “doing” and focus on “being” and “becoming”.

I am excited, a little  scared. .. and very proud of myself for having the courage to “do the difficult”, which, in this case, is doing… nothing, having the faith to let the ground lie fallow for a while, knowing that the seeds will sprout in their own time.


Ha’aretz

Last Update: Jan. 25, 2010

Two men were arrested last week on suspicion of raping and sexually abusing a 12-year-old boy at a care home in Bnei Brak, police sources said Monday.

One of the men detained is the boy’s foster father. Police were alerted when his wife approached them with a statement alleging that her husband had carried out multiple abuses.

The woman filed the complaint last week against her husband, a man in his fifties whom she is in the process of divorcing. During the course of investigations it emerged that a second, younger man in his thirties, a teacher at the boy’s boarding school, had also sexually abused the boy.


Police said the teacher had admitted to the charges against him. The boy’s adoptive father, meanwhile, had absconded on the day his wife filed her complaint but was arrested late on Sunday night.

“This is one of the most difficult incidents we have dealt with in the last few years,” said Shai Gaz, who heads the investigative department of the Rosh Haayin police force, which is handling the case.

“We are handling the case with extreme sensitivity. The boy has now been transferred to the care of a family that has been screened by the authorities.”

The boy was fostered two years ago after his biological mother was jailed for repeatedly raping him. He was initially sent to live with his father, who committed him to state care when he remarried.

Soon after, the 12-year-old was fostered and began spending weekends at his adoptive parents’ home.

His foster mother was also questioned by police, who suspected she had known of the abuses for some time before reporting them.

Last update – 14:43 25/01/2010
Two men arrested for ‘raping and abusing’ 12-year-old boy
By Yaniv Kubovich and Haaretz Service
Tags: Israel news, Israel crime
Foster mother reported attacks by husband; teacher also suspected of sexual abuse.
//
//
Two men were arrested last week on suspicion of raping and sexually abusing a 12-year-old boy at a care home in Bnei Brak, police sources said Monday.

One of the men detained is the boy’s foster father. Police were alerted when his wife approached them with a statement alleging that her husband had carried out multiple abuses.

The woman filed the complaint last week against her husband, a man in his fifties whom she is in the process of divorcing. During the course of investigations it emerged that a second, younger man in his thirties, a teacher at the boy’s boarding school, had also sexually abused the boy.

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Police said the teacher had admitted to the charges against him. The boy’s adoptive father, meanwhile, had absconded on the day his wife filed her complaint but was arrested late on Sunday night.

“This is one of the most difficult incidents we have dealt with in the last few years,” said Shai Gaz, who heads the investigative department of the Rosh Haayin police force, which is handling the case.

“We are handling the case with extreme sensitivity. The boy has now been transferred to the care of a family that has been screened by the authorities.”

The boy was fostered two years ago after his biological mother was jailed for repeatedly raping him. He was initially sent to live with his father, who committed him to state care when he remarried.

Soon after, the 12-year-old was fostered and began spending weekends at his adoptive parents’ home.

His foster mother was also questioned by police, who suspected she had known of the abuses for some time before reporting them.

Changing The World

In Children, Sexual Assault on November 21, 2009 at 23:34

The problem with being the purveyors of a product like “self-defense” is that most people think they know what you are offering, but very few really do.  Say “self-defense”, even in Hebrew, and visions of Superman, TV wrestling, ninjas and stun guns dance in their heads. Tell them that your goal in teaching self-defense is societal change…blank stare.

So, when we go out to explain our programs, we don’t talk about “self-defense” and we don’t talk about “changing the world” . When we go out to special schools and afternoon programs for at-risk teens we talk about “violence prevention and life-skills”. When we present ourselves to social workers running programs for seniors, we talk about “self-efficacy and personal security”. When we talk to representatives in the Arab community we talk about ” helping defend the honor of the family”. WE know that the term “self-defense” or, as we sometimes refer to it “holistic self-defense” includes all of these and much, much more. But it doesn’t sell.

Today’s story from the Hebrew press is another self-defense success story… but not the kind your average person would recognize as such. It is the story of a sexual predator immersed in one of the safest places he could possibly be: a religious institution serving disabled children.

According to the report Crimes Against People With Disabilities, 2007 (U.S. Department of Justice, October 2009), based on the  National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), persons with a disability had an age-adjusted rate of rape or sexual assault that was more than twice the rate for persons without a disability.

So, plenty of victims to choose from and here we are, talking about 10-13 year-old autistic boys from religious families. How much safer could a sexual predator be?

What were the odds that one of these boys would have the courage and the ability to tell his parents what was happening to him? What were the odds that these parents would take their son’s horrible allegations seriously enough to approach the school administration and that, when they saw the administration was acting in a way that might protect their son, but would leave the perpetrator free to prey upon others, that they would go to the police? What was the chance that the police would pursue a case that boils down to the word of a few autistic boys against a teacher with no criminal record? Unbelievable!!!

The boy, his parents, the police… heroes every one of them! Why? Because…. What were the odds????

But what if we could change the odds? What if kids could stand up for themselves against adults that abuse them? What if they could tell and be believed? What if parents could report and not be shunned? What if police could pursue these criminals knowing that no one would be afraid to tell the truth?

What if sexual predators had nowhere to hide?

Holistic self-defense. It could change the world.

Suspected: A Rabbi At A Yeshiva for Autistic Boys is Suspected of Sodomy

The heads of the yeshiva, located in Ramot, were interrogated after they chose not to involve the police even though they were aware of the rabbi’s actions. The suspected was arrested after parents of  a student in the yeshiva registered a complaint with the police.

Yossi Eli 20-11-2009

ww.nrg.co.il (translated from the Hebrew)

Turmoil erupted at a yeshiva for autistic children in Ramot.  Last weekend, police arrested a rabbi and teacher at the yeshiva (30) on suspicion of engaging in a series of indecent acts and sodomy against autistic children aged 10-13 learning at the institution over a period of years. The arrest of the rabbi became possible when one of the students complained about the acts to his parents.

The issue became known to the rabbis managing the yeshiva last year when one of the children complained to his parents that the rabbi would touch him and, thus, reach sexual satisfaction. The parent turned to the rabbis, who decided not to go to the police  but, rather, to deal with the issue within the walls of the yeshiva.

The rabbis decided to remove the teacher from the yeshiva and appoint a new one. With that, the parents of the youth who garnered the strength to reveal the incident decided not to let the matter rest. They issued a complaint at the Shafat Police Station, that, then, opened an investigation. In the course of the investigation, the rabbis of the yeshiva were interrogated with the warning that they were suspected of covering-up the incident. They were released shortly thereafter.

“We are talking about reliable young men”

The teacher was arrested and brought for interrogation to the Shafat Police Station. In the course of the investigation, he denied the acts attributed to him and insisted that he had not committed sodomy but, rather, was accustomed to hugging and kissing the children in a fatherly manner. As the investigation continued, in order to check the reliability of the complaints, a psychologist was invited to the institution to speak with the youngsters.

The psychologist testified that these were trustworthy young men and that the police could rely on their testimony.

The police suspect that the teacher was involved in several additional incidents involving other autistic boys that learn at the yeshiva. They intend to interview other boys learning at that same yeshiva.

The teacher was brought to the Municipal Court in the city to extend his detention before Judge Morris Ben Atar who decided to extend his detention for four more days.

The police reported that “the suspect is a resident of one of the settlements close to Modiin Ilit, a normal man with no criminal past, married and the father of five. It is the police’s intention to recommend a indictment against the man.”

The teacher’s attorney, Arnon Eitan, reported in response that “from the beginning we determined that these were old allegations that were dealt with by the “educational institution more than a year ago. And since, the matter ended. Even the present investigation came to the same conclusion.”