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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
There are more and more teenagers wandering the streets all night because they don't have to be in school the next day, student representatives told the Knesset Committee on the Rights of the Child on Tuesday.
"I know three people who are under house arrest for violence, two more for drug-related offenses, and many more who haven't been caught yet," Shahaf Todan of the National Student Council told the committee. "They get home, get bored and decide to head out at night and get into trouble."
Interestingly, in contrast to popular assumptions, violence has actually decreased since the strike began. A police representative explained that most violence actually happens in schools and since the students aren't in school, the violence has dropped by 30 percent. She compared it to summer vacation when youth violence also decreases.
However, "drug-related crimes have gone up 30%," she said.
Committee chairwoman Nadia Hilu (Labor) convened the meeting to discuss how the strike is affecting the students, something which has been mentioned frequently but not fully addressed.
Hadas, a senior at Pelech high school in Jerusalem, explained why she and her friends couldn't use their unexpected free time wisely.
"The uncertainty prevents us from planning long-term. Each day might be the last day of the strike and if it is, then it shouldn't be wasted on something serious, it should be for seeing a movie. So each day we sit in front of the TV, or go see a movie. We can't plan anything meaningful," she said.
Other kids, she said, spend until 4 a.m. wandering the streets, go to sleep until three o'clock in the afternoon, get up and do it all again.
Galit Yanovsky, a mother of two girls also at Pelech, highlighted another aspect of the strike.
"My girls, who are good girls, are finding it harder and harder to concentrate. Their ability to learn is disappearing. They can't focus enough to put in time on their studies," she said.
The representative of the Union of Local Authorities told the committee that they had been sponsoring activities for students since the strike started at a cost of NIS 5m. a day.
"About 50% of students come to at least one event. We have all-day events, trips, performances. The Education Ministry has been sending us money and it costs NIS 5m. a day to have these activities," he said.
A grim picture was painted of teenagers rapidly spiraling out of control, because the main institutional framework of their lives has been missing for months.
Meanwhile, the Secondary School Teachers Organization and the government were ordered to present a list of draft documents to the National Labor Court by noon on Wednesday evening to decide how to continue the negotiations.
The professors also met with the Treasury at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem to discuss their ongoing strike and salary demands - but the talks broke down after the Treasury reverted to offering terms from several years ago that the Shochat Committee had already rejected, the senior lecturers' union said.
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