The planning division of the Israel Department is constantly monitoring developments in Israel, including the collection of information and data from research bodies.
The Annual Israeli Statistical Report for 2005 is now being published by the National Council for the Child. The report is published on an annual basis, and gathers s series of data about the situation of children and youth in Israel which is collected in conjunction with government offices, non-profit organization and others. This information gives an up to date picture of the situation of children and youth in Israel, and also allows for the evaluation of trends and developments in this area over time.
The following is the up to date picture presented in the report:
There are 2,289,000 children and youth ages 0-18, living in Israel today, representing a 1.6% growth rate in comparison to 2004 figures. 69.3% of the children are Jewish and 23.7% are Muslim.
From the data we see that the percentage of children is higher in the periphery than it is in the center of the country. The percentage of children in the northern part of Israel is 37% versus 35.5% in the southern part, where the percentage of children in the central region is 31%.
242,000 immigrant children live in Israel today, which is equivalent 10.8% of all children. Nazareth Elite has the highest percentage of new immigrant children; 40% of all of the children in the town are new immigrants.
Children and Youth at Risk
In 2005, there are 380,000 children and youth at risk living in Israel (which are defined as "known to the departments of welfare services in Israel"). In comparison, in 2000 this number was 275,000. This means there has been a 38% increase in the number of children know to the welfare services in Israel.
In 2004, 33% of all children in Israel lived under the poverty line. In families with 4 children or more, the level of those living under the poverty line 54.7%, and in one-parent families the level of is 31.4% living under the poverty line.
11.6% of the children in Israel live in families which receive a guaranteed income benefit. In this case the percentage has gone down, as a result of the tightening of the eligibility criteria for such benefits.
The percentage of children living in one-parent families continues to rise from 6.8% in 1995 to 8.6% in 2004. The percentage of one-parent families among new immigrants is almost 3 times higher than that of native Israeli families (26.8% vs. 9.9%).
In the 2003/4 school year, the number of students eligible for a matriculation certificate continues to rise: 54.1% were eligible for a certificate, with 45.5% receiving grades high enough to make them eligible for university studies. A the same time, in some of the communities in the Galil and the Negev, the percentage of students eligible for matriculation certificates persists in being under the national average. For example: Ofakim (40.5%), Dimona (52.5%), Migdal Ha'emek (50.9%), Kiryat Malachi (46.5%), Acre (44.6%) and there are more.
56% of the children in Israel participate in afternoon enrichment activities. The highest rate of participation is in sports activities (42.4%) and only a quarter (26%) participating in educational enrichment activities.
Other interesting statistics
The most popular leisure time activity among youth is visiting shopping malls (82.4), with reading and eating in second place with just under 50%, followed by soccer at 33.5% and seeing a play at the bottom with 6%).
More than a quarter of the youth (25.5%) ages 12-18 watch 5 hours or more of television a day. 82% of the youth have a cell phone, and 60.8% of the youth surf the net.
5.7% of the youth suffer from obesity and 12.9% are at risk for obesity. In contrast 36.6 of the youth think they need to go on a diet (48.4% of the girls and 22% of the boys). In actuality 23% of the youth ages 12-17 report that they are actually on a diet.
Summary and food for thought
The data before us is witness to the substantial latent potential of the future generation of the State of Israel, but also the threat to many of these children who live in the social and economic periphery, and who will not be able to realize their potential and aspirations.
The Israel Department of the Jewish Agency, together with Jewish communities world-wide and additional Israeli partners, sees as one of its central objectives, the creation of future opportunities for these children and youth who are at risk and living in the periphery. The Youth Futures program, which began this year as a pilot in 9 communities all over the country, is designed to create a solution focused on the child, while relying on the resources existing and/or being developed in the child's community.
The program focuses on children and youth ages 6-18 and is designed to strengthen the motivation, self-appreciation, and the personal capability of each and every child; to strengthen their learning abilities, and give them the opportunity to set goals for themselves. All of this is being done with the assistance of young Israelis, ages 20-35, committed to social change, who will serve as trustees for the children and youth in building a better future.
News Flash - December 20, 2005
The number of Israeli children under the supervision of state welfare services, who are at risk of abuse and neglect has increased by 40 percent since 2000, to 375,000 in 2003, according to a report submitted recently to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and the Knesset as part of conference organized by the Committee for Children's Rights, headed by Meretz MK Ran Cohen.
The report was compiled by a public committee appointed by the government, comprised of dozens of experts and headed by Prof. Hillel Smidt, dean of the Paul Baerwald School of Social Work at Hebrew University.
"The committee urges the government of Israel to divert maximum attention toward dealing with roughly 350,000 children and youths who can be incorporated into the society's and state's normative systems," the committee, said.
The committee also found a high rate of immigrant youth criminal investigations, including a 31 percent increase in the number of files opened against Ethiopian youth in 2003-2004. "The deterioration of immigrant youth has become more severe," the committee said. "Adjustment difficulties socially manifest themselves in feelings of disappointment and alienation as well as a large number of incidents of non-normative behavior."
According to the committee, budgets for children at risk increased in 2000-2003, but not in accordance with the growth rate of that population.
"Many of the children are being treated in a number of different frameworks which lack coordination between them. It is imperative that continuity of treatment be insured, and that resources will be allocated in a way that will reduce duplication and waste."
|Rise in the Number of Children at Risk 2000-2003|
|No. of children known to the welfare services
|No. of children in households below the poverty line
|No. of children who have dropped out of the education system
|No. of children at risk from being removed their homes
|No. of criminal files which involve children