Wednesday, 13 December 2006

2,000 complaints of sexual abuse filed by children under 12 in past year

The Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel received nearly 2,000 complaints of sexual abuse in the past year from children under the age of 12, and nearly 2,500 from teenagers aged 13-18.

In over half of the 9,000 new cases the crisis center dealt with this past year the victims were minors. In 60% of the cases involving children under the age of 12, the abuse included incest while 17% involved rape and 19% indecent acts.

The report states that in 72% of the cases involving children under the age of 12 the assaults occurred in either the victim or the perpetrator's residence, while 12% took place inside educational institutions. As much as 90% of the victims were assaulted by someone they knew.

These findings, which were organized as part of a report by the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel called "Not in our school?", will be presented on Wednesday to Education Minister Yuli Tamir.

These assaults stem from "the innocent worldview of children, which creates an absolute trust in adults, without the ability to resist forcefully", the report reads, citing articles and victims' accounts of abuse.

Even at the later ages, from 13 to 18, around 80% of the perpetrators are known to the victim. As the ages of the victims rise, the percentage of cases involving incest drops, while those involving rape rises. In cases where the victim is between 13 and 18 years old, 41% involve rape, and 7% group rape. Incest was reported in 20% of the cases for this age group.

In this group, 17% of the assaults took place in educational institutions, of these, 11% were in religious yeshivas.

The editors of the report attribute the rise in cases of sexual assault against minors to the exposure of teenagers to "non-normative sexual behavior" on the internet and the media, and the weakening influence of parents and teachers as authority figures.

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