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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
School security guards, who until now have focused on preventing external threats like terrorism, will begin receiving specialized training on how to deal with pupil violence.
In addition, closed-circuit television cameras linked up to control rooms will monitor school playgrounds, as part of a series of steps being taken by police to tackle violence in schools.
The measures were announced Tuesday by Lt.-Cmdr. Meir Ben-Yishai, head of the Israel Police's Security Department, during a meeting with security officers responsible for educational institutions from across the country.
"These steps stem from a need that has been identified in recent years," police spokeswoman Orit Friedman told The Jerusalem Post. "The guards will be trained to deal with confrontations and to intervene in fights between pupils.
"Until today, the role of the guards was limited to dealing with terrorism and external threats. But they should be able to provide solutions to incidents on school grounds as well," Friedman said.
Friedman denied there was a recent rise in school violence, but noted that injuries resulting from fights and stabbings were a reality in Israeli schools.
"Having trained guards on site will cut out the need to wait for police to arrive," she added.
As part of the reforms, CCTV cameras installed in school playgrounds will feed live images to municipal control rooms.
"Pupils will be monitored at all times in playgrounds and other areas of the school, where the presence of teachers could be lacking," Friedman said.
While away from the front gate, the security guard can lock the school's main entrance to avoid security breaches, she added.
The type of training school guards receive from their companies is dictated and monitored by the Israel Police. According to the new guidelines, courses for new guards will be extended from four to six days, and there will be a greater emphasis on firearms training.
Veteran guards will, in the coming months, be asked to attend courses to upgrade their training to meet the new requirements, while new employees will have to complete the six-day before being eligible to begin work.