Study: Teachers Don't Know How to Deal With Student Violence

Slightly over one-third of teachers do not punish violent students for fear of incurring injury to themselves or their property, according to a new study. The study, which examines how teachers view their ability to deal with violence in the education system, also found that approximately 46 percent of teachers felt they did not have the professional knowledge to deal with student violence.

According to the research, carried out by Dr. Ravital Sela-Shiovich of the David Yellin Teachers College and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, some 37 percent of teachers reported that they ignore violent incidents to a great extent because they are not sure how to respond. The survey, which was carried out in June and encompassed some 150 teachers, found that about 29 percent agreed with the statement that "a teacher who reports a violent incident to the administration is perceived as less professional."

"The Education Ministry does not supervise teacher-training and continuing education on this issue," Sela-Shiovich said. "There are no clear directives to teacher training institutions to include dealing with violence as part of the curriculum. Some colleges have programs on the subject, but when there are cuts, those are the first to go." As a result, she explained, "teachers go into the schools without the necessary tools to deal with the problem of violence." In response, Dr. Sarah Ziv, in charge of teacher training and continuing education in the Education Ministry, said, "treatment of the problem of violence is done on a number of levels during teacher training, and not only under the heading of violence. For example, student-teachers learn in their pedagogy classes how to deal with disciplinary problems, exceptional children, youth at risk, etc. Over four years of training we give them the basic tools to deal with the issue," Ziv said.