Academic journal article Social Work Research

Perceptions of Violence and Fear of School Attendance among Junior High School Students in Israel

Academic journal article Social Work Research

Perceptions of Violence and Fear of School Attendance among Junior High School Students in Israel

Article excerpt

This article examines an exploratory model of how variables in school settings affect school victimization and the consequences of victimization for junior high school students. The dependent variables are fear of attending school and the students' assessment of the severity of school violence. The model presents the ways in which school context and victimization affect these variables, examining separately male and female students and Jewish, and Arab students. Findings from a representative national database of school violence in Israel were used, with structural equation modeling on the weighted sample. The model showed a good fit for the sample as a whole. Similar findings were obtained in each of the gender and cultural groups studied. Nevertheless, the authors found some differences among the groups. The article discusses gender and cultural differences, implications for social work practice, limitations of the study, and recommendations for future research.

Key words: Israel; junior high school; school violence; structural equation modeling; victimization

**********

Research demonstrates that many students and staff regularly witness and experience incidents of nonlethal violence in schools. Verbal abuse and threats, fist fights, bullying, and sexual harassment are quite common in schools around the world (see an international review in Smith et al., 1999). A recent study of a nationally representative U.S. sample (Nansel et al., 2001) found that 29.9 percent of U.S. students were involved with frequent bullying of other students or were victims of bullies (13.0 percent as bullies, 10.6 percent as victims, and 6.3 percent as both bully and victim). Strong evidence suggests that such "low level violent acts" serve as steps to more serious forms of violence (Goldstein, 1999; Heaviside et al., 1998).

Social work practitioners are concerned with the short- and long-term effects of these forms of school violence on victims and perpetrators (Astor, Pitner, & Duncan, 1996; Astor, Wallace, Behere, & Fravil, 1997). Social work research, on the other hand, tends to address the issue of school violence in the larger framework of youth violence and aggressive behavior and focuses mostly on aggressive and violent children rather than their victims (for example, Fraser, 1996; Hawkins, Farrington, & Catalano, 1998). A similar pattern was observed with regard to research in school psychology (Furlong, Casas, Corral, Chung, & Bates, 1997). Given the negative consequences of school violence on its victims, however, it is important to study the unique aspects of victimization in the school setting (rather than youth violence in general). We need to develop theories and models that identify the contexts, factors, and mechanisms that bring about victimization in school and are responsible for its detrimental consequences.

Similar to many countries in the West, Israel is concerned about juvenile delinquency and school violence. There is a growing realization that political violence and other important social phenuuena (such as mass immigration to Israel) have increased the levels of youth and school violence. A national "blue-ribbon" committee issued a detailed report alarming the public about school violence and proposing measures to address this social problem (Vilnay, 2001). Preventing school violence is now one of the top priorities of the Ministry of Education. One of the results of this interest is a national survey commissioned to assess the magnitude and characteristics of the problem (Benbenishty, Zeira, & Astor, 2000; Zeira, Astor, & Benbenishty, 2002; Zeira, Benbenishty, & Astor, in press) The study showed high prevalence of victimization resulting from school violence. Primary school students reported more victimization. Junior high school students, however, reported much more victimization from serious physical violent acts in school. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.