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Children's Participation in Decisions About Their Lives


Ma'ale Ha'chamisha, July 8, 2009


On July 8th, the Institute hosted a seminar on Children's Participation in Decisions About Their Lives. The seminar was organized as part of the Gantz Zahler Seminars on Child Welfare, and brought together for the first time, professionals and researchers from the fields of law, psychology, education, social work and medicine to discuss the implementation of the international Convention for the Rights of the Child in Israel. The Minister of Justice, Professor Ya'akov Ne'eman and the Minister of Social Affairs and Social Services, Mr. Isaac Herzog delivered opening remarks.


The panel (From the left): Prof. Jack Habib, Dr. Rami Suleimani, Ms. Karen Gantz Zahler, Ms. Suzanne Brown, Minister of Justice Ya'akov Ne'eman, Minister of Social Affairs and Social Services Isaac Herzog and Justice Emeritus Saviona Rotlevi

Seminar Program

9:30 Greetings and Opening Remarks
Mr. Isaac Herzog, Minister of Social Affairs and Social Services
Prof. Ya'akov Ne'eman, Minister of Justice
Prof. Jack Habib, Director, Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute
Dr. Rami Sulimani, Director, JDC-Ashalim
Justice Emeritus Saviona Rotlevi, former vice-president Tel Aviv District Court; former chairwoman of the committee introducing the Convention on the Rights of the Child into Israeli law
Mr. Uriel Yifrach, Chairman, National Student and Youth Council
Ms. Karen Gantz Zahler, Adv., Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute Committee Member
10:00 The International Convention on the Rights of the Child, its Ratification and Application in Israel
Justice Emeritus Saviona Rotlevi
Dr. Tamar Morag, Academic Director, The Clinical Legal Education And Social Action Programs, School of Law, The College of Management
10:30 Child Participation in Family Courts: Pilot and Evaluation Study
Dr. Tamar Morag
Anat Inbar, Director, Family Court Assistance Units, Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services
Dori Rivkin, Engelberg Center for Children and Youth, Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute
Yoa Sorek, Engelberg Center for Children and Youth, Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute
13:00 Parallel Sessions: Children's Participation in Select Spheres
1. Participation of Minors in Criminal Proceedings against them in Juvenile Court

Chair: Ms. Rachel Sharvit, Director, Youth Probation Services Division, Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services

Dr. Avital Molad, National Supervisor of Children's Representation, Public Attorney's Office
Judge Nitzana Ben David, Juvenile Judge
Mr. Effi Braver, Director, Youth Probation Service, Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services
Ms. Limor Solomon, Former Legal Advisor, Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services

  • To what extent is the minor informed about the legal process, its possible stages and outcomes?
  • What is the right balance between the defense attorney's professional position and consideration for the minor's wishes/outlooks?
  • Advantages and disadvantages of hearing the minor's direct testimony in the courtroom (without the attorney's mediation)
  • Involving the minor in the rehabilitation/therapy program set for her/him
2. Child Participation in Decisions Regarding their Education

Chair: Ms. Hadara Rosenblum, Director, Education and Youth Division, Ministry of Education

Ms. Anat Kedar, Senior Educational Psychologist, Jerusalem Municipality and Ministry of Education
Ms. Tova Ben Ari, Supervisor for the Implementation of the Students' Rights Law
Dr. Carmela Igel, Former Director of Special Education at the Ministry of Education, Lecturer At the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and additional colleges
Ms. Rivka Elisha, Director, The Israeli Center for Human Dignity

  • Do professionals regard the school as a paternalistic institution or an arena enabling participation?
  • Child participation in decisions about treatment and counseling; placement committees and in decisions about their study tracks
3. Child Participation in Decisions about Medical Treatment

Chair: Dr. Boaz Lev, Associate Director General, Ministry of Health

Dr. Pnina Aviram, Lecturer and Member of the Law Faculty at the Kiryat Ono Academic Institute; Member of the editorial board of Mishpat Refui u-Vio-Eticka [Medical Law and Bio-Ethics]; Research Fellow at the Center for Medical Law; member of the core (Danon) committee of the National Council of Pediatrics and Children's Health, examining proposed legislation on the matter of informed consent by minors
Attorney Adi Niv Jagoda, conducted the first study of its kind in Israel on child participation in medical decision-making; Mediator in medical law and children's rights in medical trials; Advisor to medical bodies on the legalities of child treatment policies; Member of the executive of the Israeli Association of Supportive Treatment
Ms. Vidad Masalha , Social Worker, Department of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology, Hadassah Medical Center

  • To what extent is it right to involve children to create dialogue or to clarify their outlooks/wishes?
  • To what extent should children be informed about their medical condition? Is real participation possible without full information?
  • Are children given an opportunity to express their opinion about receiving medical or psychological treatment, hospitalization etc.?
  • What is the significance of child participation in medical decisions affecting them?
14:30 Parallel Sessions: Children's Participation in Select Spheres
4. Participation of Minors who are Victims of Offenses

Chair: Ms. Vered Windman, Adv., Director, Center for the Child and the Law, National Council for the Child

Dr. Dana Pogatch, Director, Noga – Legal Center for Victims of Crime, Ono Academic College
Ms. Ronit Tzur, Director of Division for Children's Investigations, Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services

  • The conflict between protecting children from further harm and their right to participate in the process (giving testimony in court, deciding on protective measures)
  • To what extent is the legal process (and what is expected of the child as a witness) explained to the child?
  • Is there a need to change the way that testimony is obtained from children and should they be involved in the decision – how would they prefer to testify?
  • Is there room for the prosecutor to meet with the child and impart the relevant information about the legal process and the child's rights as a victim of offense?
  • Is there room for discussion between the prosecutor and the child enabling the child to air her/his views and wishes about the process?
  • Should the minor who is the victim of an offense have an attorney appointed for separate representation? Advantages and disadvantages.
5. Child Participation in Family Life Decisions

Chair: Ms. Talal Dolev, Director, National Program for Children and Youth at Risk

Mr. Idan Amiel, Clinical Psychologist, Director of Parent Instruction Unit, Schneider Children's Hospital
Mr. Avner Hacohen, Clinical Psychologist, Psychotherapist and Group Therapist
Mr. Israel Sorek, Director, Institute for Practical Philosophy

  • To what extent do parents tend to involve children in decisions regarding family life and the household?
  • The tension between parental authority and children's involvement in family decisions.
  • Should children be involved in situations of parental crisis or family problems; and if so – how?
6. Involving Children at Risk in Decisions Affecting their Care and Treatment Plans

Chair: Ms. Dalia Lev Sadeh, Director, Children and Youth Services, Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services

Ms. Vered Rotfogel, National Supervisor, Children and Youth Services, Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services
Dr. Shoshana Grinwald, Senior Program Director, JDC-Ashalim
Dr. Tali Gal, Lawyer, Specializing in Children's Rights
Ms. Vivy Rechnitz, Adv., Defense for Children International, Israel Section
Ms. Anna Kotova, Director, Beer Sheva Emergency Center for Children and Youth at Risk

  • The tension between the need to protect children from information that may harm them and the need to involve them in the decision-making process about their care and treatment
  • The effect of child participation in decisions about treatment programs on the achievement of desirable outcomes in those programs
  • Professional paternalism versus professionalism – where does one draw the line?
  • Resistance and barriers among professionals to child participation
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