Approximately 6,000 cases of sexual assault of children are reported to the welfare authorities in Israel every year. However, for a long time there was no suitable public service helping victims cope with the traumatic effects of such an assault.
Centers for treating children victims of sexual abuse in the geographic and social periphery began operating in 2007, as part of a joint initiative of Rashi and the National Insurance Institute aiming to provide a highly professional service that is accessible to children and their parents without charge. In addition, the project aims to train therapists in the field of sexual abuse and to advance multi-disciplinary activity dealing with its effect on the lives of the children and their environment.
In close cooperation with the Welfare Ministry, we developed a unique model of regional centers operating an on-site treatment facility and satellite units in nearby communities. At present the initiative includes 12 regional centers with 35 satellites. They received a total of 1,400 applications and treated 930 children in 2012, in addition to working in the community to raise public awareness and holding study days for professionals.
The centers proved to have a clear added value over the old system, where victims were referred to self-employed therapists; the benefits they offer include professional supervision, pooling of knowledge, and especially a systemic approach, which is at the heart of the centers' work model.
Consequently, the Welfare Ministry has adopted the model as the basis for a national, state-funded service for treatment of sexual abuse, and joined as a funding partner in the next phase. The Ministry will take full responsibility for operating the centers in mid-2013 and complete the nationwide expansion.