Children's reports of emotional, physical and sexual maltreatment by educational staff in Israel

Rami Benbenishty*, Anat Zeira, Ron Avi Astor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


Objectives: This paper reports on the first nationally representative study on the prevalence of emotional, physical, and sexual victimization of children by school staff in Israel. The study identifies groups of children that are at higher risk for such maltreatment. We examine the differences in staff-induced victimization by the children's gender, age group (junior high vs. high school), cultural groups (Jewish non-religious, Jewish-religious and Arab schools) and by socioeconomic status of the children's families. Method: The study is based on a nationally representative sample of 10,410 Israeli students in Grades 7-11 in 161 schools across Israel. Students completed questionnaires during class. In addition, we obtained data on the socioeconomic status of the families of the students in each school. Results: Overall, children reported high rates of victimization by staff members. Almost a quarter of all children participating in this study reported being emotionally maltreated by a staff member, almost a fifth (18.7%) reported being a victim of at least one type of physical forms of maltreatment, and 8.2% reported on at least one sexually inappropriate behavior by a staff member. The most vulnerable groups for all types of maltreatment were males, children in junior high schools, children in Arab schools, and children in schools with a high concentration of students coming from low-income and low-education families. Conclusions: The overall prevalence rates of staff maltreatment should be considered high and unacceptable. Although rates of physical and sexual maltreatment were lower than emotional maltreatment, they were still high and are worthy of greater attention. Both cultural beliefs and low family socioeconomic status increase vulnerability to staff maltreatment. We suggest conducting an educational campaign to reduce rates of staff maltreatment. We also recommend allocating more resources to support staff in low SES neighborhoods, to alleviate their stress and to provide them with the support that would reduce maltreatment of children in the educational system.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)763-782
Number of pages20
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2002

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The study was funded by a grant from the Israeli Ministry of Education to the authors. The authors would like to thank the many students, principals, teachers, supervisors and administrators who generously gave their time and support to make this study possible.


  • Children's reports
  • Educational staff


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