Israel: Youth at High Risk of Alcohol, Other Drugs, Violence
A new analysis shows 30% of youngsters in Israel are having problems involving alcohol, other drugs, sexual abuse or violence at home.
According to a report issued by Elem, nearly one-third of Israel’s adolescents are at risk. Elem is a non-profit organization working with troubled youth. Their analysis showed:
- One in every four youths were using drugs — with users now as young as 12.
- The figures are worse for less-advantaged communities on Israel’s periphery rising to one in two young people.
- One in five of all teens reported being subjected to nonsexual violence — in the home, in the community and on the internet. This figure rose to one in every two for adolescents at risk.
- Four out of five at risk teenagers reported having been subjected to sexual violence, with incidents doubling over the last year.
The report was based on data collected from more than 21,000 young people helped by the organization over the past year and has been presented to President Reuven Rivlin.
Almost a third of Israeli teens are at risk
According to the risk categorization of the report, 70% of Israel’s 800,000 teens lead normal lives, suffering from problems that are typical of adolescents.
Of the 30% at risk teenagers:
- 15% were defined as at moderate risk. These teens used alcohol and other drugs to cope with depression and adolescent issues.
- 10% — some 80,000 teens — are estimated to be unable to function in school, felt like failures, had suicidal thoughts and suffered from serious emotional and family problems.
- 4% — 32,000 teens — have quit all frameworks and cut themselves off from their friends, wandered the streets and become involved in crime.
- 1.43% — 8,000 teens — were homeless, self-harming, involved in crime, addicted to alcohol and/ or other drugs and cut off from their families.
Elem has called for the creation of a national program to fight sexual violence against adolescents and young adults. It has submitted a paper to members of Knesset addressing the need for prevention, identification, enforcement and rehabilitation.
The greater the distress, the more intensive the drug use, helping youth to escape the harsh daily reality in which they live. Particularly alarming is the phenomenon of drug abuse among younger adolescents (aged 12-16), said Inbal Dor-Karbel, director-general of Elem, as per The Times of Israel.
This year, more than ever before, we saw how easy it is for youth to get hold of drugs via the social networks and various online applications, which make drugs accessible everywhere and at all times all over the country.
In March, police arrested 42 people connected with one of the country’s largest drug sale networks, Telegrass, which had been operating via the Telegram instant messaging app. In April, they charged 27 suspects.
Alcohol harm in Israel
WHO reports about a third of all alcohol using youth between 15 to 19 years in Israel binge consume it. Almost half of the alcohol using teenaged boys engage in this harmful behavior. The harm is significant for Israeli men with 9.8% suffering some alcohol use disorder. This number is higher than the WHO European regional average.
Israel has a relatively low legal age for alcohol use. This along with restrictions on sales can be strengthened in the Israeli alcohol control policy to curb the harm of alcohol specifically for youth. Further a national monitoring system for alcohol policy implementation would increase effectiveness of the current policy.