(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
The Teachers’ Union on Sunday held a morning-hour strike at the Rivka Guber Elementary School in the Lachish Regional Council in the South, in protest over acts of violence against a teacher at the school by a parent.
The incident marks one in a string of publicized attacks against teachers in the education system in recent months by students and parents alike.
“We see with great sorrow that is a widespread and serious phenomenon and is not case specific,” Yaffa Ben-David, chairwoman of the Teachers’ Union said on Sunday.
Ben-David added that the union has been receiving reports of violence against teachers every day and sometimes multiple incidents per day.
In the past month alone, there have been reports of violence both against teachers and other pupils in Netanya, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
According to the union, the latest strike on Sunday comes after a mother of a pupil at the elementary school received a restraining order for yelling and threatening her child’s teacher. However, despite the order, she returned to the school and threatened the teacher again, yelling at her and throwing objects at her.
The mother was detained overnight and questioned by police.
Ben-David called on teachers to report any cases of violence to the Union and said, “We will act with full determination to eradicate violence against teaching staff.”
Last week, the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee approved for a first reading a bill that would increase the punishment for violence against teachers.
The bill, which was initiated by MK Moti Yogev (Bayit Yehudi), will provide an amendment to the penal code so that anyone who attacks an educational worker, either during working hours or after, if the attack is related to the fulfillment of the teacher’s work, will be sentenced to five years imprisonment.
Data presented at the Knesset panel showed that violence in schools in Israel has decreased overall in recent years. Despite this, violence against teachers remained relatively steady and had even slightly increased this past academic year.
Ben-David told the Knesset panel that over 70% of teachers had reported either physical or verbal attacks against them and declared a “state of emergency.”
Despite the legislation, a police representative said he believes the bill would not act as enough of a deterrence against violence because the courts might not always give the maximum punishment available by law.
The proposed legislation comes following negotiations last year between the Teacher’s Union and the Education Ministry over curbing increased violence against teachers – an issue that has been in the spotlight for months.
Teachers threatened a nationwide strike that would have affected some 700,000 pupils, but called it off after the education ministry promised to expedite the bill aimed at ending violence against teachers.