Violence in Israeli middle schools 6 times higher than other developed countries

Violence in Israeli middle schools 6 times higher than other developed countries

OECD survey finds incidents of bullying and intimidation among 7th-9th graders nearly twice as high as in other member states

Illustrative photo of Israeli students taking a test on January 22, 2018. (Roy Alima/Flash90)
Illustrative photo of Israeli students taking a test on January 22, 2018. (Roy Alima/Flash90)

Middle schools in Israel are six times as violent as those in most other developed Western countries, according to a survey published Thursday by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The OECD’s education study, the Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS), surveyed thousands of middle school teachers and principals in member countries about the 2018 academic year. The survey examines working conditions and learning environments in member countries and some others.

The results showed that 26 percent of middle school principals in Israel reported “acts of intimidation or bullying” at least once a week, nearly twice the average in other OECD countries at 14%.

Some 13% of principals reported “violence between students resulting in physical harm” at least once a week, as opposed to 2% on average in OECD countries — a number some six times higher.

The number represents a sharp jump in violent incidents in Israeli schools over the last five years. In the 2013 TALIS survey, just 13% of principals reported bullying or violence between students on a regular basis.

The TALIS survey is conducted every five years to “explore and examine the various dimensions of teacher and school leader professionalism across education systems.”

An Israeli classroom (photo credit: Kobi Gideon/Flash90)
Illustrative photo of an Israeli classroom (photo credit: Kobi Gideon/Flash90)

The 2018 study examined educational trends in 48 countries, 31 of them members of the OECD. In Israel, TALIS surveyed 184 principals and 2,627 teachers of 7th to 9th graders.

The results are in line with an Israeli study on school violence published last year. According to a survey published by the Israel Teachers union ahead of the 2018-19 academic year, some 87% of the 400 teachers surveyed reported violent incidents at their schools the previous year, with 54% saying they had either witnessed or experienced violence firsthand.

In November 2017, the teachers union called a general strike after a student in southern Israel hit his teacher over the head with a metal rod, injuring him.

The Knesset has since passed legislation treating attacks against teachers as seriously as those against other public servants. The legislation approved five-year prison terms for students who attacked their teachers.

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