The Relationship between Student Perceptions of School Climate and Involvement in Violence, Risk Behaviors, and Hidden Dropout: A Comparative Analysis between Arab and Jewish Students in Israel
and Yossi Harel-Fisch
Positive perception of school climate protects students from risk behaviors, which, according to the socio-ecological model, are the product of a complex relationship between an individual and the various systems in his life, including school.
Research in Israel, however, has provided contrasting findings. While higher rates of risk behavior were found among Arab youth compared to Jewish youth, Arab students reported a more positive perception of schools than did Jewish students. The research aimed to examine the gap in these perceptions, and to examine the difference among Arab and Jewish students regarding the relationship between perception of school climate and risk behavior. Researchers utilized data analysis of the World Health Organization multinational Survey (HBSC, 2011). Study participants included 7,485 students from grades 6 (25.3%), 8 (23.1%), and 10-12 (51.6%); of which 29.5% were from the Arab sector, and 70.5% were from the Jewish sector. The findings demonstrated that Arab students reported more positive perceptions of school climate than did Jewish students. In both sectors, the relationship between perception of school climate and other variables was strong, and the relationship between climate and low achievement was negative.
This study aims to add an additional layer to the literature regarding the influence of culture on student perceptions about major aspects of their lives in school, and the relationship between climate perceptions and risk behaviors. Its goal is to raise awareness as to the need to consider cultural characteristics in developing strategies for effective interventions aimed at improving the school climate and the well-being of the students, in order to reduce the effects of risk behaviors.