Israeli President Ruvi Rivlin received the “Children in Israel 2016” report, which is put out annually by the Israel National Council for the Child.
“Ten percent of children report they go to bed hungry. A hungry child will grow up to be an adult who lives in stress, fear, and possibly distress,” Rivlin said.
In the past decade, the number of children living in poverty has remained approximately 34%. Not only that, the number of reported abuse cases involving children rose from 14,513 in 2006 to 17,677 in 2015.
A full 30% of those youth contacted strangers via telephone or laptop computer, and 15% said they met these strangers. In contrast, parents very rarely reported such incidents.
In addition, 83% of Israeli children own a smartphone, and in 2015, the average amount of time an Israeli child spent on a smartphone was more than five hours per day.
“One third of Israel’s citizens are children,” Rivlin said, stressing the importance of the report. “This is an extraordinary number, and shows we are a young country with our entire future before us. This population reflects all of Israel’s society, including Jews and Arabs, secular and religious, immigrants and foreign workers, healthy and disabled, poor and rich, children who excel and those who are at risk. More than two and a half million children live in Israel, and they are our future.”
“I don’t see this as a report which reflects only the current situation. I see it as a report which is a kind of prophecy, showing us what the future may be like. I believe our children are our future. If we do not manage to give our children the proper physical, emotional, educational and legal resources, if we do not manage to be there for them when they need us – our future will become clouded.”
A ninth-grade Jerusalem representative of Gal Shalom Youth said, “Every child, every youth, has a dream. My dream is to become a pilot. But only a select few of us will manage to fulfill our dreams… It seems the main reasons for this discrepancy are the wide gaps between those who live in the center of the country and those who live in the periphery. I was very disappointed to discover the economic and social gaps which affect every area of our lives and how we spend our free time. Television, internet, and smartphones are much more available than extracurricular activities and other types of learning opportunities. Sometimes children who live in the periphery simply don’t have enough options, and they have to make do with entertainment facilities designed for adults.”