ONE in two Israeli pupils has been bullied, a quarter of boys and a tenth of girls have been physically attacked on school grounds, and nearly a quarter of boys report carrying weapons to school for self-defence.
Yet, despite the recommendations of a slew of committees, too little is being done to combat bullying, according to a damning report from the government's watchdog.
The state comptroller says that schools tend not to report violent incidents to the education ministry. If they suspect a child has broken the law, staff sometimes fear that if they contact the police, the child's parents will take revenge.
Only half of local authorities surveyed have data on violent incidents in schools, and two-thirds say there is no systematic co-operation with the education ministry over the problem.
The most recent committee, which reportd in summer 1999, asked schools to determine the localised factors leading to violence, such as alienation between new immigrants and native Israelis.
But, by September 2000, only 200 out of 3,400 schools had used special diagnosis kits, including questionnaires. The report criticises the education ministry for failing to follow what is happening on the ground.
While many anti-violence programmes have been offered to schools - including violence prevention through animal care, and initiatives linked to community policing - the ministry neither checks whether programmes are being run nor carries out any evaluation.
The state comptroller is also highly critical of the treatment, or lack of it, offered to habitual truants and to youngsters who have dropped out of school. Just over 9 per cent of 15 to 17-year-olds drop out, the report says.