One in five children in Israel has been sexually abused, according to a large study out of the University of Haifa Faculty of Social Work , Israel Radio reported. The study surveyed 12,000 people between the ages of 11 to 17.
Most of the victims said they did not report the abuse due to embarrassment, or that they didn't know where to turn or due to fear of punishment by the abuser for reporting.
The study found that the percentage of boys who are sexually abused in Israel is slightly higher than girls. Professors Rachel Lev-Wiesel and Zvi Eisikovits, who led the study, surveyed youth from every sector in Israel except for the haredim who did not participate.
The number of children reported to have suffered sexual abuse by their brothers nearly doubled last year over the previous year — 1,258 in 2014, compared to 691 in 2013 — according to Ministry of Social Affairs figures obtained by Haaretz. These figures are based on complaints reaching social workers across the country.
Over the last 18 months a study was carried out that provides the first data on sexual abuse of their brothers. The study, conducted by Dr. Dafna Tenner of the Haruv Institute, which studies child abuse in the family, found that in 130 cases of sexual abuse by a brother, the average age of the victims was nine, and the average age of the offenders 14. In 96 percent of the cases the offenders were boys, with 67 percent of the victims being female.
“It happens a lot in families and people aren’t sufficiently aware of the problem,” says Dr. Tenner. “There is usually a large age gap between offender and victim, but with several siblings the victim often starts abusing younger siblings.”
The most common type of abuse involves touching private parts under the clothes (46 percent), with 35 percent of cases involving the touching of clothed private parts. In 11 percent of the cases there was penetration, and in eight percent there was indecent exposure of private parts.
“This phenomenon wasn’t talked about 2-3 years ago but we now see a rise in the number of cases. It doesn’t mean that there are more, only that we are getting to more families,” says Haruv Institute director Prof. Asher Ben-Arye, who has been dealing with child abuse for more than two decades. “One parent told me something I can’t forget, making me understand why it’s so hard to report these cases. ‘You expect me to go through Solomon’s judgment with my children.’ Professionals also have to learn how to deal with this.”
Three patterns of abuse found
Three patterns of abuse emerged from the study: the “identified offender” in which an older, stronger brother abuses a younger, weaker one; a "normative routine" in which the two siblings hide their activities but accept them as normal; and a “deviant routine,” in which the siblings understand that their behavior is wrong. In some cases studied, the brother molesting his sibling brought along his friends to join in the abuse.