Elementary school children use electronic tablets..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Education Ministry introduced new guidelines on Wednesday for dealing with violent incidents at educational institutions.
The decision to update the guidelines was made in light of a “changing educational reality,” most notably the use of technology as a tool to promote or enact violence among students.
The new outline, “The ideal educational climate and dealing with violent and dangerous incidents in educational institutions,” an amendment to the previous guidelines established in 2009, aims to provide clear rules on how to handle varying incidents within schools from assault to digital violence.
“The Education Ministry acts to promote a safe learning environment, to reduce violence and to create a school culture based on including different students and providing tools for their success,” said Michal Cohen, the ministry’s director- general, on Wednesday.
“This communication stresses that the presentation of clear and fair boundaries is designed to help those who have deviated from them, to take care of oneself and others who are around, to prevent risky behaviors, and to allow proper conduct of teaching processes, learning and assessment,” she said.
According to the ministry, the new guidelines were developed on the basis of the concept of “education around the clock,” whereby there is a link between incidents occurring within school as well as outside school boundaries, both in the physical and digital worlds.
As such, the guidelines state that if information is received of an incident that occurred outside of the educational institution but has a connection to school, the principal and teaching staff must address the issue in collaboration with the parents.
The guidelines outline both required actions to be taken by schools and faculty, and actions that may be taken “at the discretion” of the educational staff.
With regards to incidents of physical violence, regardless of the severity, each incident requires an “educational intervention,” while severe incidents require reporting to the police.
The procedures state that the school is required to “act to end the harm,” but it is at the discretion of the teachers whether the incident should be reflected in the student’s behavioral record.
With regards to the use of technology in school, the guidelines specifically state that only for educational purposes should personal technology be used during class. If a student repeatedly violates this rule, several steps can be taken in a gradual manner – from confiscating the device to notifying parents to assigning the student a report on the issue.
The guidelines also provide a section on the use of technology to promote violence online and to distribute naked or sexual pictures of students, an issue which has plagued the education system in recent months.
According to the new rules, schools are required to notify the police as well as the parents of any incident of digital violence, accompany and support the involved students through the use of professional staff at the school, and suspend the student responsible.
In addition, the school can choose to notify all parents of the incident, without revealing private details of the students involved or to include the incident on a student’s personal record.