Violence in Israel’s Schools

Violence in Israel’s Schools

Israel’s middle schools are up to six times more violent than those in other Western developed nations according to an OECD study.

The cover of the TALIS report by international organization OECD.
The cover of the TALIS report by international organization OECD.

Israel’s middle schools are up to six times more violent than those in other Western developed nations according to a study by the intergovernmental Office for Economic Cooperation and Development, according to The Times of Israel.

The OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey, which was published June 20, questioned thousands of middle school teachers and principals in participating countries about the 2018 school year.

The most recent, 220-page study was comprised of 48 countries, 31 of which are OECD members. In Israel, 184 principals and 2,637 seventh- through ninth-grade teachers were surveyed.

The foreword to the survey explains that “education is no longer just about teaching students something, but about helping them develop a reliable compass and the tools to navigate with confidence through an increasingly complex, volatile and uncertain world.”

This chart depicts changing trends in verbal abuse of staff between 2013 and 2018.

Shockingly, 26 percent of Israel’s middle school principals reported “acts of intimidation or bullying,” at least once a week, while other OECD member countries averaged only 14 percent, just above half Israel’s rate.

Meanwhile 13 percent of those same Israeli principals reported “physical harm” as a result of violence between students at least once a week, compared to just two percent in other OECD countries.

That number marks a steep increase in incidents of bullying in Israeli schools over the past five years, according to TOI. The 2013 TALIS showed just 13 percent of Israeli principals reported that same bullying or violence.

The study also uncovered three times as many thefts in Israeli schools as the OECD average. According to Haaretz, Israeli students confirmed many of the report’s findings in questionnaires about school atmosphere during achievement exams.

Conducted every five years, TALIS tries to “explore and examine the various dimensions of teacher and school leader professionalism across education systems.”

Unfortunately, these results are not isolated to a single study, but are reflected in a similar Israeli survey on school violence released last year by the Israel Teachers Union. It states that about 87 percent of the 400 teachers surveyed reported violent incidents that year, with 54 percent having witnessed or experienced the violence firsthand.

That same union called a strike in November 2017 after a teacher in southern Israel was attacked by a student with a metal rod.

While legislation has since passed treating assaults on teachers as seriously as those against other public servants, the rate has not dramatically changed, based on the OECD report. That legislation carried a five-year prison sentence for students who attacked their teachers.

Israel did rank impressively on drug and alcohol abuse, with only one percent of principals reporting such issues, and Israel reported a total of zero verbal or physical threats by teachers against students.

Teacher-pupil relations were also painted in a positive light, with more than 90 percent of teachers saying their school provides assistance to pupils in need and that students and teachers get along well.

While the statistics related to bullying in Israeli schools were certainly the most eye-catching part of the TALIS, it also provided a number of recommendations for schools across the globe, offering advice for empowering teachers, reforming education and better preparing students to be successful.

It also reported statistics on teacher preparation, teaching standards and use of technology in classrooms, among dozens of other categories.
Compiled by AJT staff

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