The invisible epidemic

10 Jul

By Chantal Jacobs

Photo courtesy of everythingsinhebrew.blogspot.com

In 2009, there were 333,751 reported cases of child abuse in Israel. Despite a twenty-year-old law compelling anyone who suspects child abuse to alert the authorities of that fact, it is widely considered that these reported cases represent a mere fraction of the number of abused children in this country. Moreover, the number of teenage girls who the Israeli Ministry of Welfare has deemed sufficiently at-risk to be removed from their homes is approaching 20,000. Of these 20,000 victims of abuse or neglect, just 1,000 have been placed outside of their homes. It is tragically clear that thousands of young girls are continuing to suffer alone, forced either to endure continued abuse at the hands of their tormentors, or escape from their homes onto the streets where they are initiated into a whole new world of dangers.

It is a sad fact that those girls who run away from home due to abuse are more likely than not to suffer further abuse while they are living on the streets. Indeed, faced with the prospect of yet another hungry night sleeping outdoors, most girls eventually fall prey to the commercial sex trade. With no one to protect them, they often have no other option.

Of course, along with their sexual exploitation inevitably come other deviant behaviors; drug and alcohol abuse are rife amongst teenage runaways. However, much like abused girls who remain in their homes, these behaviors are more likely to be inwardly, rather than outwardly, destructive. Indeed, girls who have suffered abuse tend to express their anguish by dropping out of school, developing serious eating disorders and self-harming. Unlike abused boys, who loudly devastate the world around them, female victims of abuse are often so quiet, they are almost invisible – often no one notices them until they attempt suicide.

Even then, the damage is focused on themselves. Society remains unhurt.

Unfortunately, insufficient government funding is directed towards Israel’s epidemic of abused teenage girls. This translates to exhausted state-run facilities with no financial means to expand their services to help the girls who so desperately need them. Furthermore, they are unable to enact the creative therapeutic and educational programming necessary to successfully rehabilitate them.

Without intervention, these victims of abuse are likely to enter adulthood miserable, alone and with no hope of recovery. Robbed of the opportunity to succeed in life, their futures will be tarnished by poverty and need. Moreover, neglected by society, they are likely to neglect their own children, creating a whole new generation of abuse.

The abused girls of Israel need to be given a voice. Their needs can no longer be overlooked, simply because they are silent. As society we have an obligation not only to protect our children from harm, but also to provide care to those children who have slipped through the net. Failure to do so will inevitably create more victims of abuse in the long term. Thus, the rehabilitation of abused teenage girls is vital for the future of Israeli society. They must no longer be invisible.

Chantal Jacobs is the Grant Coordinator at The Jaffa Institute – a private, non-profit organization that provides after-school programming and a host of other social services to thousands of severely disadvantaged children and their families in the greater Tel Aviv-Jaffa area of Israel.

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2 Responses to “The invisible epidemic”

  1. Bernie July 11, 2011 at 1:53 am #

    This is not an Israel only epidemic, it is a World Wide Problem. The enemy is hard at work destroying beautiful young ladies who otherwise would be growing up, living their lives as a normal young girl starting to see how life unfolds, and instead they are being thrown to the wolves like a piece or raw meat to be destroyed at will. This is not Israels problems, it is our problem, each and everyone of us. We need to be on our knees before the Lord lifting these beautiful creations up and asking the Creator just what can we do to help them get out o the situation they are in and NOW. We need to not be afraid everytime we see of these babies on the street and not look down of them but give them a hand up out of the street. Jesus said “what you have done for the little ones you have done for me” speaking of when you feed those who were hungry, or who were in need of clothes, in need of a warm bath and friendship, to the least of these you did this unto Him…

  2. midnightrabbi August 2, 2011 at 10:45 am #

    Great blog and cause , please read our blog for our sister Organizations
    Bet Shemesh http://midnightabbi1eligoldsmith.wordpress.com/2011/07/20/a-short-tribute-to-a-great-cause-bet-shemesh-educational-center/

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