Half of Israeli pupils have been bullied

25% say they don't feel safe at school; teachers fear for their own safety.

violence school 88 (photo credit: )
violence school 88
(photo credit: )
Half of the school pupils in Israel report having been physically bullied, and a quarter say they do not feel safe at school, the Education Ministry's annual report, published Wednesday, revealed. In addition, one out of every five teachers says that he or she fears for his or her personal safety, while one out of every ten teachers admitted to having responded with physical violence to a pupil. Non-Jewish pupils reported more physical violence by teachers than Jewish pupils, with the highest rate reported among Beduins. Half of Beduin pupils say that their teachers use violence. While Israel Police data revealed a 100 percent increase in cases of physical violence reported in schools between 1996 and 2004, an interim report - which former Education Minister Limor Livnat and former director-general of the Education Ministry Ronit Tirosh presented to the ministerial committee for the advancement of projects to fight violence - has provoked mixed reactions among parents, high-school students, and education experts. Among the recommendations presented to the committee were fining the parents of violent children; creating greater distance between teachers and pupils by forbidding pupils to call teachers by their first name and obliging them to rise when a teacher enters the classroom; obliging all pupils to wear school uniforms; and allowing security guards at school entrances to perform spot checks of schoolbags. 'It's meaningless to try and turn the wheel back and reassume disciplinary measures that were the norm in the 1950s,' said Prof. Abraham Yogev, of Tel Aviv University's School of Education. 'Nothing is going to change if students rise when a teacher comes into class. These kinds of measures are artificial, and they will never be implemented on the ground.' Yogev also said that school violence was a reflection of a society riddled with violence, and that while specific measures could be taken - for example, against carrying knives in school - nothing would really change until the school system, which he considers anachronistic, underwent a major overhaul and 'adapted itself to the 21st century.' Meanwhile, the National Students Council has taken an innovative approach to thinking about school violence. 'Contrary to everyone else,' said the council's outgoing chairman, Ziv Chen, 'we actually went and spoke to the violent kids. All these measures the report outlined are intended for kids who aren't violent in the first place. We talked to the kids who are violent, and asked them what would prevent them from acting this way.' Their informal survey resulted in some interesting conclusions: according to Chen, violent adolescents said, among other things, that they did not feel they were punished severely enough for what they did, and therefore did not feel they had any reason to stop being violent. 'They also spoke about responsibility,' said Chen, 'and about feeling like they weren't part of society.'