Most of our children did not want to end up in Bnei Arazim.
The vast majority of them had been turned out of other institutions, among them psychiatric hospitals, following behavioral or mental problems that endangered their own lives or the lives of those around them. No other solution was available to them, often for extended periods of time. They were left feeling that they were wanted by no one, and had use for no one.
Of the youngsters referred to Beni Arazim by the Ministry of Welfare, over 90% are admitted, with very few questions asked. We make no elaborate inquiries, nor do we require an assessment of "potential for change" or "resistance to therapy". We believe that almost any child, in almost any condition, can receive effective treatment, no matter how extreme, long enduring or life endangering their behavioral or mental problem.
Our approach is not shared by many and moreover, it challenges accepted psychiatric views. We believe that some situations call for the determination to go against the child's desires and feelings, and the children respond to this attitude surprisingly well. Even with children who appear to be untreatable, in most cases some breakthrough is achieved.
The vast majority of children who come to Bnei Arazim never return to psychiatric hospitals. (Our work and outcomes by the numbers)
Bnei Arazim boarding school is a post-hospitalization hostel, providing services to the Ministry of Welfare's rehabilitation division. The boarding school operates within the Bnei Arazim center in Rishon le Zion, run by the Bnei Arazim non profit organization. The center, comprised of the boarding school, a day school, an after school program and a family therapy clinic, was established in 1997 by child psychiatrist Shulamit Blank .
The boarding school itself was established in 2002, following the realization that an increasing number of children with behavioral and emotional problems is being repeatedly referred to psychiatric hospitals, due to lack of more adequate institutions. Their hospitalization, originally intended as a short-term solution, becomes a permanent arrangement. Prognosis? "incurable"". Currently, Bnei Arazim also admits youngsters displaying recidivist criminal behavior, with a history of multiple arrests. Their prognosis? "incorrigible".
At Bnei Arazim, we view these children as being essentially well and fully capable of being rehabilitated through setting boundaries, restoring parental authority and clarifying the connection between these factors and the children's diagnosed learning disabilities.
Such processes obviously entail intensive, uncompromising therapeutic work with the child and the family. They require a committed, caring team that will not cave in to the children or evade difficulties. A team capable of guiding the children towards an experience of successful change, even when they are at their lowest point.
But this is only the beginning. While their peers develop their personal identities, our children face a twofold challenge: first they must eradicate their old identities as "hopeless", "crazy" or "delinquent" and only then, having proven to themselves that they can be "like everyone else", can they develop their unique personal identities, as all adolescents do. It is our mission to support them as they navigate this intricate double challenge.
Currently, 44 children are enrolled at Bnei Arazim. They come from all over Israel, and from all sectors of the population. One of Bnei Arazim's greatest successes is its continuing program, "the villa". Established in 2003, the villa is located in a residential area far from the boarding school. It is home to kids who have demonstrated their ability to live more independently.
The majority of Bnei Arazim alumni are successfully integrated in employment, military service and other organizations not specifically geared towards former psychiatric patients. Most of them never return to psychiatric hospitals.