THE ISRAELI EDUCATION SYSTEM STRIVES TO
PROTECT ITS SCHOOLS AND STUDENTS FROM TERROR
The current terror wave requires Israel to contend
with unending attacks on its citizens in a variety of
areas and through numerous activities. A very large
proportion of this burden is carried by the Ministry of
Education, which expends huge resources to ensure
the safety of its students and teaching staff.
To enable physical protection, the ministry provides
funding to construct shelters and fences and add
reinforced protection to school buses; to hire and
train security guards to guard the schools; to increase
the number of staffers involved in psychological
support, and much, much more.
Volunteer organizations also come to the aid of the
system to help provide emotional support for the
wounded and the families of those killed in terrorist
acts. Student volunteers are also trained how to help
their less fortunate friends.
Professional psychological care is provided inside the
system by the Psychological Counseling Service
(PCS), whose job is to calm the students and bolster
their sense of security so they can continue to
maintain a normal life style – as far as that is possible.
The Ministry of Education’s
Psychological Counseling Service
(PCS) deals with the effects of terror
The need to deal with emergency situations
comes at the expense of routine tasks, such as
keeping track of the students’ development.
For the past two years Israel has been living in a
constant state of emergency – filled with pain,
sorrow and suffering. During this period, children
and adults have repeatedly encountered acts of
violence and terror.
The level and intensity of the tension and stress that
children experience is directly affected by the
feelings and responses of the significant adults in
their lives. The fact that all Israeli society feels
threatened and is suffering from emotional stress as
a result of the wave of terror naturally has a direct
impact on children
A large number of Israeli children have experienced,
and are still experiencing, not only the fear of terror,
but terror itself. A large number of Israeli children
have either been directly involved in attacks, or have
relatives or friends who have suffered from these
Over the past two years, the staffers of the Education
Ministry’s Psychological Counseling Service, which
includes about 5,000 professionals, psychologists and
counselors, have been working dilligently to help
students, parents and teachers cope with this most
difficult situation. This support is provided on three
The first is on the class level through class
discussions, which serve three purposes:
A. To enable students to express their thoughts and
feelings in a nonjudgmental atmosphere allowing for a
wide range of emotional responses – such as fear and
anger. In the discussions, a clear distinction is made
between feelings and emotions – which are perfectly
legitimate – and actions such as revenge and
retribution, which are firmly ruled out.
B. To help students actively cope with the situation
while maintaining a normal routine, as far as is
possible under the current circumstances.
C. To foster and advance a positive viewpoint among
students concerning future developments in Israel and
in the region, with a special emphasis on the inner
strength of Israeli citizens who have had to withstand
difficult situations in the past – and have been able to
The second level involves dealing with the situation
immediately after an attack takes place. PCS teams
immediately become involved in finding students at
risk who are exhibiting signs of anxiety, aggression,
withdrawal and detachment, and treat them directly.
Additionally, the educational teams identify hundreds
of children and adults who are related, or in some
other way connected, to people who have been hurt in
a terror incident and try to provide them with the
support they need.
At the third level, PCS staffers are responsible for
keeping track of students unable to return to regular
functioning capacity because of their closeness to
someone killed or wounded in an attack. Prolonged
extreme reactions often require therapeutic
Unfortunately, the cost of terror from the perspective
of the Psychological Counseling Service has been
especially high. The need to concentrate considerable
resources on the emergency situation has seriously
undermined the PCS’s professional routine and
comes at the expense of normal tasks such as keeping
track of the children’s normal development and
diagnosing and helping children with learning
difficulties, disabilities and social problems.
At present, contending with the emergency situation
is at the top of the PCS’s priorities. In 2002, the
educational system received an additional 5,500
counseling hours, and its counseling team was
reinforced by an additional 415 professionals working
in the Jewish, Arab and Bedouin sectors.
In all their meetings with the children, the PCS’s
professionals underscore the subject of hope. Hope
for a better future is an important educational-therapeutic
message, and every effort is made to
impart this to students, teachers and parents
Hope was and is – even at this difficult time – a
fundamental element in the education for love of
other human beings, for tolerance and peace that
characterizes the Israeli education system.
*Contributed by Adi Nir Sagie, Chief Pyschologist, Ministry of Education
and Chava Friedman, Deputy Chief Psychologist.