Israel has been shaken to its core by six murders that have taken place in our tiny country since last Friday.
Police investigators said gang and organized crimes, family disputes and teen drinking were among the likely motives for the recent killings. These join other violent incidents during the last two weeks including wild behavior of young supporters outside the football pitch, group sex on the beach, (whether or not it was done with consent and the flagrant behavior of several youth during the play Ghetto,which has drawn widespread concern from many sectors.As Chairperson of the World WIZO Executive and a Professor of Education I was asked to give my opinion on the subject, which subsequently appeared in several Israeli newspapers.
“Just blaming violent youth is the easy way out”
A wave of violence and disturbances affecting public order, caused by young people, has swept over Israel during the last few months, and we still have the summer holidays ahead of us. Within a period of forty eight hours youngsters have murdered two people during the night hours, and only recently we heard of a number of rapes and other incidents on the Bogroshov beach and during the play Ghettoat the Cameri theatre.
Everyone is shocked when they read about the violence, the lawlessness and of course, the cold blooded murders, but blaming only the youth for irregular behavior and claiming that they are damagedand we have to react in a serious manner is an easy way out, too easy, which, in my view, is incorrect.The question is Where are we, the adults?, and Is the education that we are giving our children suited to the era in which we are living, an era of unending rapid change?
There is no doubt that something is wrong, terribly wrong, when our children seem to have lost the ability to differentiate between right and wrong. It is true that the above incidents have set off all the warning lights and cannot be ignored.
But we have to delve much deeper than just blaming the youth and one another. All of us, parents, educators and leaders in society have to try and work out the cause. Something is happening here, and we are missing a very important point.
There are many factors which are responsible for the culture of violence amongst youth today in its various forms. These factors vary from incident to incident, but there is no doubt that there is a deterioration in values which crosses geographical borders, and is causing a real crisis in Israeli society.The perception of youth comes from information that has not been censored.
In many cases we have no control over the content that they are absorbing. And we often have no interest in checking out this content because it is too easy to just enjoy the quiet and the technology with is often used as a babysitter during leisure hours.We do not like to ask questions and we think to ourselves.That is how it is today.But these children grow into violent youngsters and only then do we wake up to the damage that is being done, and cry out. But we have brought it on ourselves!.
As adults we have to take responsibility and examine ourselves. We have to adopt new, and innovative approaches in educating towards values, which are suited to today’s reality and the ongoing availability of information.Approaches which can be implemented by those who are in ongoing contact with children and youth. It is too easy to just ignore what is happening in the heads of our children when they are glued to the various screens. When we finally wake up to the huge damage that is being done, it may be too late.
We can inculcate values and bring about a change in attitudes if we know how to approach each pupil, how to bring out the good in each of them as well as to set down clear limits.
There is no such thing as bad children
All children come into the world innocent, ready to be molded.It is our job as parents, educators and society to give them the right messages, in ways that speak to them, and bring out the best in them. It is up to us to give them the appropriate tools, in a clear and precise manner, so that they can differentiate between right and wrong, and to bring out the best of them in a super technological world in which uncensored information is easily available to all.
It is possible.Thousands of youth in Israel are doing beautiful things, every day, usually as volunteers, who want to contribute to society, without wanting recognition or glory.I can give hundreds of examples in our own WIZO facilities and institutions.When deviations occur we have to point the finger of blame at ourselves, the adults, and they have to serve as a warning that we have to go on searching for suitable ways to provide education based upon values.