Russian Panthers against Racism in Israeli Schools


THE FOLLOWING STATISTICS WILL BE EVEN MORE TERRIBLE!

From a report issued by the Israeli Union for the Protection of Children: 1,262 children from Beersheba were exposed to some sort of violence. In 1999 the Beersheban Department of Social Services reported approximately 628 cases of abandonment, 328 cases of physical violence and harassment, 245 cases of metal trauma, 61 cases of child sexual abuse. Additionally, every fifth child in Negev lives in an impoverished family. The population of Negev represents 10 % of the population of Israel, yet 20% of all incidents of violence have occurred within Negev schools. 80% of these incidents of violence occur as a result of ethnic hatred. The director of the Israeli Union for the Protection of Children comments: “The following statistics will be even more terrible ".

The statistics also show, that each sixth child in Beersheba is considered "impoverished". If one is to consider the entire region, then every fifth child is from a family considered "impoverished". These statistics indicate a sharp increase in violence to the youth of Negev. 20% of these cases of violence, which occur within the school walls, are from the Southern district and from the Central district, where the number of students is much higher. There is a steady growth in of the number of children suffering from physical and verbal abuse within the school system and it is often attributed to pedagogical neglect.

THERE IS NOBODY TO COMPLAIN TO

An additional problem is the absence of a response system to the children's problems. In Beersheba, there are 48,900 children and only an average of 5.5 social workers. In Netivota and Kaspia, there is only one social worker in each town. They are so overwhelmed with cases that they cannot handle their caseload in any way. In Dimona, with 11,300 children, in Erukhama, with 3,400 children, and in Lakia and Rakhata, with 16,800 children, there are no social workers present at all!

In Beersheba, the addition of 3 more case workers promised in the beginning of year is now suspended.

The number of social cases amongst children continues to grow. In August, 2000, the Social Services Department in Beersheba registered 7,627 children’s cases (constituting a total of 13.3% of the general population of children), in Ofakim: 1,410 (14.8%), in Dimona: 1,493 (11.6%), in Arad: 654 (8.3%) in Rakhat: 1,414 (7.6%), in Netivot: 1,263 (14.5%), in Khura: 569 (21%), in Erukham: 745 (21.6 %) in Ksaife 619 (15.4%), in Aruehra: 354 (8.3%), and in Tel Sheva: 610 (10.6 %). There were cases reported even in the more prosperous settlements: in Meitar: 6 children (4.5%), in Omer: 19 (1.5%).

In a general sample, made by the Union for the Protection of Children and the Help Center for Sexually Abused Children “MITAL”, there were found 91 proven incidences of sexually abused children. In the report, it is noted, that for every one registered complaint, there are ten cases, which go unreported by the children. In 1998, in Ofakim, 10 children reported cases of sexual abuse, in Dimona there were 12 cases, in Netivot - 10 cases, in Arad - 8 cases, and in Beersheba - 61 cases.

THE GROWING CRIME RATE

Crime rates amongst the youth of our cities continue to grow steadily. In the Federal Court records, for crimes committed by children: In the city of Beersheba, there were recorded 1.080 criminal cases. This marks a 56 % increase in the crime rate from 1998 to 1990, while the population of city has grown only 20 %. In Dimona, the growth of the number of criminal cases in the Federal Courts rose 72 % in comparison to 1990.

The number of young people who have broken the law has also sharply increased. In Beersheba, in any given session, where the accused are guarded, there are 559 teenagers (1.1 %). In the surrounding small towns, these figures are much higher; in Dimona, more than 165 children (14.6 % of the general population), in Arad 123 children (22.8%), in Netivot, 104 children (13.7%), in Erukham, 52 children (16.8%) and even in prosperous Omera there were 15 children (10%). In the small Bedouin towns the percentage is lower - in Rakhat - 70 children (4.4%), in Tel Sheva - 13 children (3.3%).

RESPONSES

Dr Emmanuel Katz, assistant to the chief physician at the hospital “Soroka”, and a member of board of the Israeli Union for the Protection of Children stated: “The Union for the Protection of Children publishes the data, but we are powerless do to anything”. His task is to warn society, to affect and inform everyone who works with the problems of children. “The problem of violence is especially sharp and is found everywhere. We are faced with it in all avenues. This violence is found everywhere.”

The statistics of poverty is the key. The child who has nothing to eat, who is cold at night, whose parents are unemployed - loses the most. The combination of poverty and violence is especially dangerous, and added to this is narcotics and drug addition.

Dr. Yitzhak Kadman, the general director of the Union for the Protection of Children, states, "In Israel, there is no attention given to social problems. In all that concerns children - there is no united Israel. There is also a difference in attitude and approach to the children from various socio-economic backgrounds. The chances of a child from Negeva to advance socially and economically in life are markedly lower. His social position is much worse. Even for a prosperous child from the suburbs, it will be very difficult.

In Negev, there are too many problem children and too few social workers capable of aiding in and making decisions regarding their problems. There are simply not enough social workers; there are more employees in the Department of Public Health and the Department of Mental Health, than there are caseworkers. Huge budgetary deficiencies in the local governments, directly contributes to low educational standards and minimal social protections. The austerity budget affects the schools with fewer hours, fewer school trips and excursions, and fewer theatrical performances.

In the south, there are fewer reported incidents of sexual abuse because frequently there is nobody to report them to. If a school has no psychologist or guidance counselor, the children have nobody to talk to about their troubles. There are children who have never traveled to Jerusalem or Tel Aviv. Poverty - this is not only for the future. A poor family can not buy their child a computer, can not buy them books and will even have difficulty saving money for medical inoculations, which cost a lot money.”

DECLINE IN EDUCATION

Strange things are occurring with the educational level of children. According to the Ministry of Public Education, the number of children who have successfully completed examinations for their diplomas has not changed markedly in the last few years. In Beersheba, these figures change approximately 37-40% (60% in comparison to the country, (over 70% in Haifa and Raanana). In the suburbs, these figures are lower, though in some small towns, as for example, in Ofakima, the educational level has sharply grown. This is partly due to the arrival and settlement of their Russian-speaking emigrants. In September 2000, the movement “Russian panthers" published the findings of Dr. Eliezer Fel'dmana, from Institute of Social and Political Research, about the sharp decline of the educational level amongst Russian-speaking emigrants. If, among the older generation, 68% had attained the highest or medium level of education, amongst the younger generation only about 40 % complete their secondary education and only about 30% get into a university.

In the internal reports of the Ministry of Public Education, the picture is a little bit different. There they are concerned, that, despite huge expenditures, the number of successfully completed examinations for the graduating diploma does not grow from year to year. Experts of the Educational Ministry have checked the results of the examinations in all the schools of Israel. It was found, that children from an emigrant environment continue to be in the lead and the percentage of success amongst them does not decrease, but instead grows - 67% (1996) and 72% in (1999). The successful completion of the emigrant-graduates - balances the declining educational level amongst old residents. This tendency is especially hi-lighted in the south of the country. This data is well known to officials of the Ministry of Public Education. They can rather simply retrieve the data from a computer at the Department of Examinations since the identification numbers of diplomas for the emigrants begin with the number three. As a comparison, there are the percentages for the graduating Arabians, from refugee families (cooperating with Israel), whose diplomas begin with the number 35 and in some areas of the population, whose numbers, too, begin with the number three, they also do not coincide with the data for Russian-speaking children.

Michael DORFMAN

Published by "Novosty Nyedely" - Russian Israeli newspaper