Invisible children and non-essential workers: Child protection during COVID-19 in Israel according to policy documents and media coverage

Carmit Katz, Noa Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The protection of children from maltreatment has become extremely challenging during the COVID-19 pandemic. The public's gaze is focused on the urgent health crisis, while many children are at risk due to social isolation and reduced social services. Objective: Examine child protection in Israel during COVID-19, as portrayed in mainstream news media and government policy documents. Participants and setting: The study analyzed all policy documents and mainstream media reports published in Israel from March to May 2020, during the initial mandatory nationwide quarantine. Methods: (1) Search of relevant articles in mainstream news websites; (2) Search of documents in official websites of relevant government ministries and agencies. Results: 28 government policy documents and 22 media articles were found relevant. When examined chronologically, what stood out was the initial decision to shut down social services, including some of the residential care units for youth at risk, and declare social workers “non-essential”. These decisions were revoked a few weeks into the quarantine, following persistent media pressure by child advocates, resulting in minor changes in policy. Conclusion: Children were initially invisible to Israeli policymakers facing the pandemic, highlighting the centrality of advocates promoting children's rights and of mainstream news media in disseminating the discourse of protecting children from maltreatment, especially in times of crisis. Moreover, the study points to the heightened threat to at-risk children due to inadequate policies, and to the urgent need to develop child protection policies in order to avoid further risk in future global crises.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104770
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • COVID-19
  • Child maltreatment
  • Child protective service (CPS)
  • Israel
  • Media coverage
  • Policy documents

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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