Between incidence, prevalence and reporting child abuse

Research period: 2009-2016

Funding Agency:
Traiana, an ICAP Group Company.

Principal Researchers:
Zvi Eisikovits
Rachel Lev-Wiesel
Guy Beker

Guy Enosh
David Mehlhausen-Hassoen
Maya First
Laura Sigad

Jhonathan Davidov

Scientific Abstarct:
A national survey addressing the incidence and prevalence of various forms of child abuse in the Israeli society is not available. There is growing consensus that the various forms of child abuse in the Israeli society are underreported. While there have been speculations as to the reasons for this phenomenon, ranging from individual to cultural, there have been few efforts to address the issue empirically. Our aim is to produce an empirical understanding of the multivariate and complex phenomena of child abuse through subjective understanding and an examination of prevalence and incidence. In addition reasons for differential disclosure will be addressed. A mixed method study was considered most appropriate using both qualitative and quantitative methods. :

The purposes of the study are:

  • To identify types of child abuse that occurs within and outside the family.
  • To survey the scope of the phenomenon and its distribution in Israel using a national   representative sample.
  • To investigate whether reported cases of child abuse inside and outside the family reflect actual prevalence rates.
  • If underreporting exists, to determine whether it is homogenous across different types of child abuse or are some types more underreported than others.
  • To examine the socio- psychological- cultural-and contextual factors that inhibits disclosure.
  • To identify the common characteristics of abusers and victims.
  • To develop typologies of victims.
  • To develop new abuse typologies.
  • To obtain an in depth understanding of how children and youth themselves, understand and define subjectively their experience of abuse and disclosure.
  • To obtain knowledge as to how professionals working in the field of child abuse in Israel perceive both the phenomena of abuse, processes of children's disclosure and inter-system cooperation in care.
  • To develop prevention and intervention programs though the utilization of empirical results.
  • Can a grounded theoretical model of child abuse across forms of abuse, be developed, or do we need to develop abuse specific models?
  • To utilize both quantitative and qualitative knowledge to create a synergy in child abuse research, practicum interventions and informed policy creation.
  • The data base developed from the research will be interpreted and disseminated in various forms to policy makers and professionals by website periodical brief reports and professional gatherings in which the data will be presented and discussed for purposes of implementation in policy and practice.

The study utilizes a mixed methods approach and has both quantitative and qualitative components. The quantitative study consists of a national survey of a representative sample of children and youth throughout the country (n=15,000), divided into three age groups: age 12 (n=5,000), age 14(n=5,000), age 16 (n=5,000). The sampling was compiled through a socio- economic cluster sampling and data is collected at this within in national school system the social welfare system The qualitative component of the study consists of in-depth interviews with 130 children and youth, victims of abuse and neglect, to enable the understanding of their subjective experience. In addition 80 interviews with professionals who work with in the field of child abuse are being conducted in the subfields of law enforcement (n=20), health (n=20), treatment (n=20), and education (n=20) to examine their perceptions of child abuse, disclosure, policy, intersystem cooperation and prevention.

8 December, 2014 
Research findings on: 

"Between Incidence, Prevalence, and, Reporting Child & Adolescent Abuse"
The findings were presented by the researchers, Prof. Zvi Eisikovits & Prof. Rachel Lev-Wiesel,
at the 'committee on education' in the Knesset. 
To read the main findings (enter link)
 (Hebrew only). 

12 November, 2013
The findings were presented by the researchers, Prof. Zvi Eisikovits & Prof. Rachel Lev-Wiesel,

at the "Committee on the Rights of the Child" in the Knesset.
(watch the discussions at the committee - 12/11/13)

To read the main findings (enter link)
 (Hebrew only).

Published articles

  • Sigad, L., Beker, G., Lev-Wiesel, R., Eisikovits, Z.  (2015) "Living on the Edges: Between Victims and Survivors, the Voices of Abused Adolescent Girls". Journal of Family Violence, 30 (5): 621-631, J Fam Viol - DOI 10.1007/s10896-015-9704-z

  • Eisikovits, Z., Davidov, J., Sigad. L. Lev-Wiesel, R., (2015) "The social construction of disclosure: the case of child abuse in Israeli society". In B. Mathews and D. C. Bross (Eds.). Mandatory reporting laws and the identification of severe child abuse and neglect,  The Springer Series on Child Maltreatment, Vol. 4., pp. 395-413.

  • Sigad, L., Davidov, J., Lev-Wiesel, R., Eisikovits, Z., (2014), Toxic knowledge: Working with child abuse and the self-alteration process. "We pay a price for our work." Journal of Interpersonal Violence

  • Lev-Wiesel, R., Gottfried, R., Eisikovits, Z., & First, M. (2014) "Factors affecting disclosure among Israeli children in residential care due to domestic violence", Child abuse & neglect, 38(4), 618-626, DOI: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2014.02.002

  • Carmel, Y., Sigad, L., Lev-Wiesel, R., Eisikovits, Z., (2014) "Pathways to resilience among Israeli child victims of abuse and neglect". Child Indicators Research (Springer), Child Ind Res DOI 10.1007/s12187-014-9255-5.


Accepted for Publication:

  • Davidov, J., Sigad, L., Lev-Wiesel, R., Eisikovits, Z. (In press) "The improvisational identity of child abuse professionals: 'It isn’t my role, anyway!'", Qualitative Social Work Journal (25-30 pages, A4). Impact Factor .738