National Council: 55% Rise in Child Poverty

National Council for the Child finds one in three Israeli children live below poverty line, percentage quadrupled in last few decades.

Cynthia Blank ,

Children most at risk from poverty
Children most at risk from poverty
Yad Ezra V'Shulamit

The annual report released Thursday by the Israel National Council for the Child paints a bleak picture of what it is like to live in Israel in 2014 for a large percentage of Israeli children. 

According to the data collected in 2013, the Council found that 826,105 children in Israel are living below the poverty line. This number represents almost a third of all the children in the country - 30.8%, meaning that one in three children live below the poverty line. 

Despite a decrease in the number of poor children in Israel in 2013, there has been an overall 55 percent rise in child poverty over the past 15 years. In the last three decades, the percentage of poor children in Israel quadrupled. 

Since 2006, the percentage of students who had gone to school or bed hungry also increased, due to a lack of food at home. This trend particularly stands out among boys in the Arab sector. 

The Council also found a link between the number of children in a family and poverty. Most poor families in Israel contain four children or more. With families of five or more children in the Jewish population, 20% lived below the poverty line. That number is 66.4% in non-Jewish families. 

The towns and villages where the percentage of poor children is highest are: Lakiya, Segev Shalom, Tel Sheva, Arara, Rahat, Tzfat, Nazareth Illit, Kiryat Malachi, Ofakim, and Tiberias. 

Additionally, compared to other Western developed countries, the situation in Israel looks particularly grim. 

According to the international comparison, the percentage of poor children in Israel is more than twice the average percentage of poor children among other OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) member countries.

The poverty level in Israel in recent years stood at 28%; the average among OECD countries is only 13.3%.   

The National Council for the Child report also touched on the education system and Israeli children's habits.

According to the report, there are 2,682,160 children living in Israel, of which only 2,180,204 are being taught in the school system. This means half a million Israeli children are not receiving an education.

More than 450,000 children in Israel are suffering from high risk situations, including domestic assault, sexual assaults, severe disabilities, and lack of awareness of fundamental rights. 

About half of Jewish children (49%) and two-thirds of Arab children (67.6%) reported that they has experienced some type of injuries in their life. 8%-11% of students from 4th through 11th grade reported being victims of bullying through digital media. 

The report found that a very high percentage of children go online for several hours or more a day - 89.3% of children aged 9-11, 88.9% of those aged 12-13, and 39.1% of those aged 15-17. 

President Reuven Rivlin who received a copy of the report from National Council for the Child chairman, Yitzhak Cadman, responded by saying, "Woe to the society that does not take care of its helpless. A society that does not worry about its helpless is not worthy to be called a society." 

"Israel is characterized by a younger population than the rest of the developed world and for that very reason we must not ignore the cycle of poverty and danger, especially in the Arab and hareidi sectors," Rivlin added.