Poll Points to Rise in Violence in Israeli Schools

While most pupils ranked their sense of security at school higher than at other places, nearly half say they've been struck at school

Students in a high school in Jerusalem.
Michal Fattal

About half of Israeli children 12 to 18 have been struck and more than a third have been stabbed with a sharp object while at school, according to a poll commissioned by the Public Security Ministry.

More than half of the respondents said they had been ridiculed, sworn at or threatened, though admittedly, 67 percent ranked their sense of security at school higher than at other locations. (In 2014, 86 percent of respondents in an Education Ministry survey said they had a greater sense of safety at school.)

Among those who said they did not report an incident, the most common explanation given – by 39 percent of respondents – was that they handled the problem themselves. Thirteen percent said they were too embarrassed to report it, 10 percent said they were afraid to do so, and 10 percent said they didn’t think anyone could address the problem.

“Even though the police are presenting figures showing a general decline in youth crime and in the number of cases opened and indictments filed, we’re seeing a worrying increase particularly of serious offenses by young people,” said retired police commander Suzy Ben-Baruch, who took part in the survey.

In the survey, conducted by phone by the Maagar Mochot research firm in February last year, 1,692 students between 12 and 18 were polled.

According to the survey, 40 percent of the respondents said they had suffered inappropriate sexual contact at school such as the removal of the trousers or the touching of their private parts through clothing. Forty-two percent said they had suffered verbal sexual harassment.

Thirty-seven percent said they had been stabbed by another teen with a sharp object such as a pocketknife or scissors, and 39 percent said they had been threatened with violence if they did not hand over an object.

Forty-six percent said they had been punched, kicked or hit with an object. In addition, 42 percent said they had been the victim of rumors or videos disseminated on social networks and were shunned by others.