Israel's first center for child abuse victims to opens

Israel's first center for child abuse victims to open Tuesday at Sheba Medical Center

March 16, 2009, by Ruth Eglash, THE JERUSALEM POST

Copyright 1995- 2009 The Jerusalem Post

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Israel's first all-encompassing center for child and teen victims of sexual and physical abuse will open Tuesday as a separate department at Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer.


Based on the successful US model, where currently 600 such centers are in operation, Beit Lynn will provide abuse victims between the ages of three and 18 with a wide range of services and therapy, including social welfare and legal services.


Its creation is based on a law passed last year, which calls for six more such centers to be set up.


"This is the first center of its kind to be established in Israel, and bringing together medical staff with other responders will provide the capacity to give treatment quickly and effectively in the most traumatic of cases," said Prof. Ze'ev Rotstein, Sheba Medical Center's director-general.


Funded by the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, together with the Ministry of Welfare and Social Services, Sheba Medical Center, NGO Ashalim, the Israel Police Force and contributions from the ministries of health, justice and education, the new center aims to streamline the initial process rape victims must undergo, whether their attacker is a family member or a stranger.


In the past, victims were forced to visit each office independently, usually being carted around by their parents from the hospital to the police station and on to social workers and lawyers.


The new center will bring all these elements together under one roof, with all first responders sharing information and easing the trauma for the victim.


A pilot center run along similar lines has been operating in Jerusalem for the past several years and was also established by the Schusterman Foundation. It is not based in a hospital, however.


According to the latest information from the Ministry of Welfare and Social Services, there are some 40,000 cases of child abuse reported each year, with child welfare officers following up on roughly one-fourth of those reports.


Last year, child welfare officers investigated 8,716 cases of child abuse, a rise of 12 percent over the previous year.


"This is a very welcomed and essential initiative," Minister of Welfare and Social Services Isaac Herzog said in a statement. "It will provide Israel with a breakthrough in the treatment of children and youth who have been abused physically, sexually or emotionally."


"The new center will allow thousands of children who have gone through a terrible trauma to receive the necessary treatment in an appropriate and holistic manner, all under one roof," he added.


Beit Lynn is expected to treat more than 700 children and teens a year from the area surrounding the hospital.


Read this and other stories about Sheba at www.sheba.co.il

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