Thursday, February 19, 2009

Child abuse - Difficult to prove accusations

Parents waited anxiously Wednesday for Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz to respond to an appeal that he reopen an investigation against a Jerusalem-area pre-school teacher who allegedly abused their children.

The parents issued their appeal in the form of a letter they delivered to Mazuz's office at the Justice Ministry on Tuesday following a decision by prosecutors not to indict the teacher.

Some staged a protest in front of the ministry, bringing battered dolls to emphasize that "children are not rag dolls and cannot be serially abused."

The case began in June 2007 when parents discovered what they described as serious cases of abuse against their children, who had been enrolled at a pre-school in Givat Ze'ev, just outside Jerusalem. After questioning the children as to the source of various scratches and bruises, the youngsters blamed their pre-school teacher.

A number of the parents filed complaints with the police, municipal government and Education Ministry. One said her daughter had been "thrown across the room and then locked in the bathroom."

With a police investigation under way, the Education Ministry transferred the teacher to a pre-school in Jerusalem's Kiryat Menahem neighborhood. The ministry explained that it was standard procedure to transfer an employee following a complaint so as not to interfere with the investigation.

Within a few months, parents at the Kiryat Menahem pre-school also discovered signs of child abuse. The parents of a three-year-old girl who found multiple contusions on her body were concerned enough to take her to the hospital. According to the National Council for the Child, the girl said it had been the pre-school teacher under investigation who caused the injuries.

The organization argued Tuesday that evidence pointed to the fact that the teacher was a serial child abuser and constituted a danger to small children.[...]

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