Public attitudes toward the identification and reporting of alleged maltreatment cases among social groups in Israel

Rami Benbenishty, Hillel Schmid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Objectives: To identify what types of behaviors are defined as child maltreatment by the Israeli public, and which types of incidences are seen as justifying reporting to the authorities. The study examines to what extent these views are different among social groups in the Israeli society (e.g., Arabs and ultra-Orthodox). Methods: A telephone survey was conducted among a representative sample of 812 adults in Israel, with an oversampling of additional 50 ultra-Orthodox Jews. A series of 12 scenarios was presented to respondents who indicated whether each of them was a case of maltreatment and whether it justified reporting to authorities. Results: There was strong consensus among the participants that some scenarios indicate maltreatment. These scenarios related to all types of maltreatment and were associated with potentially severe harm. The tendency to justify reporting is weaker than the tendency to see them as cases of maltreatment. Further, there is a correspondence (although not a perfect one) between to what extent scenarios are judged as more indicative of maltreatment and the extent to which they are seen as justifying reporting. Both Arabs and ultra-Orthodox Jews tend to see more maltreatment than Jews in general and non ultra-Orthodox Jews in particular, except for using corporal punishment to "educate" an insolent child. No consistent differences were found between these groups in their justification for reporting. Conclusions: There are indications that the underlying dimension which determines the identification of cases as maltreatment and justifies reporting is the severity of the potential harm to child, rather than the type of maltreatment (i.e., physical, sexual, neglect or emotional). The authors suggest that public campaigns should be tailored to address the different attitudes and perspectives of different social-cultural groups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)332-339
Number of pages8
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors wish to acknowledge the generous funding provided by the Haruv Institute and the professional support of the B.I. Cohen Institute for Public Opinion Research in Tel Aviv.


  • Child maltreatment
  • Definition
  • Public attitudes
  • Reporting


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