School violence dropped markedly in 2010-2011

Findings based on questionnaires filled out by 24,625 pupils in grades 4 to 11 in the Jewish and Arab state school systems.

Students in classroom 311 (photo credit: Reuters)
Students in classroom 311
(photo credit: Reuters)
There was a significant decline in almost every category of violence in schools between the 2009/10 and 2010/11 academic years, the Education Ministry said on Tuesday.
The ministry based its statement on questionnaires filled out by 24,625 pupils in grades 4 to 11 in the Jewish and Arab state school systems over the past two years. The poll did not include students in haredi schools, special education facilities or the Arab schools of east Jerusalem.
The questionnaires focused on a number of types of violence and other threats facing students (including drug and alcohol use) to compile a multi-year frame of comparison. Examined were serious and moderate physical violence, social violence, sexual violence, violence by and against faculty, violence on school buses, and the use of weapons in schools, among others.
The greatest improvement was among elementary and junior high students, while among high school students the figures remained relatively stable over the test period.
In 2010/11, 14% of children in grades 4 through 6 witnessed or were involved in an act of serious violence, a decrease of 26% from a year earlier. During that same period, 8% of those in grades 7 through 9 reported seeing or being involved in such violence, a drop of 27%. The figure stayed the same, however, for 10th- to 11th-grade students, 8% of whom said they were involved in or witnessed such violence.
In addition, the proportion of 4th- to 6th-grade pupils who said they witnessed or were involved in an act of sexual violence dropped 29%, from 14% to 10%, and among 7th- to 9th-grade students it dropped from 20% to 16%, a 20% decrease. Among 10thto 11th-grade students, however, the number stayed more or less the same, with 16% reporting they were involved in such acts during the 2010/11 academic year, as opposed to 18% in a year earlier.
As for violence directed toward teachers, there was a 40% drop in this among 4th- to 6th-grade pupils (from 10% to 6%), a 29% drop among 7th- to 9thgrade students (from 14% to 10%) and a 19% drop among 10th- to 11th-grade students (from 16% to 13%).
There was also a significant reduction in the proportion of students who said they have consumed beer or hard liquor. The improvement was most stark among 4th- to 5th-graders, 9% of whom said they had drank hard liquor, a 36% decrease from the 14% the year before.
The Education Ministry credited the positive figures to a number of programs launched in recent years.
These include NIS 10 million budgeted in 2009 toward violence prevention in schools, the strengthening of penalties for students involved in violent acts, and the continued expansion of the City without Violence program across the country.
When presenting the numbers in Tel Aviv, Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar (Likud) said, “We know that Israel is a violent society, we see it on the streets, we see it on the news. The schools are not separate from this reality but we are investing a great deal in fighting this phenomenon.”
Sa’ar said that while there is reason to be pleased with the figures released on Tuesday, “there is no cause for celebration, the path is still long.”