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      Gush Katif Youth at Risk

      A compelling report shows grave consequences of the disengagement, including higher drop-out rates, increasing use of alcohol/drugs, and lack of professional solutions for these and other problems.
      By Hillel Fendel
      First Publish: 1/11/2006, 11:46 AM / Last Update: 1/11/2006, 1:52 PM


      Compiled by the Gush Katif-L'maan Acheinu Task Force, the report states that out of 1,000 high school youths among the Gush Katif expellees, 50 have dropped out of school totally, and another 50-100 are registered but barely show up. No solution has been offered for those at risk of dropping out.

      In addition, a gap of approximately one school-year has been created between Katif students and others. This is because of the many months of political struggle against the dsg, and another four months of this year in which many of them were not in a proper school framework.

      Many junior high school students are reported to be lacking in motivation to go to school. "The educational system did not prepare to deal with the emotional and behavioral problems that resulted from the uprooting," the report states. The problem is especially acute at this age because their performance in 7th and 8th grades affects their chances of being accepted to quality high schools.

      The report, published on the Katif.net website, notes cases of drug and alcohol use - "problems that were not known in Gush Katif, but which are now increasing... More and more expressions of despair and feelings of 'no way out' are being registered, and we have even been shocked and dismayed to experience suicide attempts amongst our youth."

      The report states that extra-curricular activities for youth are paid for only by donations.

      Hagit Yaron, of the N'vei Dekalim secretariat, told Arutz-7's Moshe Priel:
      "Our goal is to stabilize the communities, and for this we need physical places to have activities on all levels - for adults, youth and children. We have turned to all the government offices, and everyone tells us how important it is, etc., but the bottom line is that we receive nothing. As an example, take Nitzan, where there are seven different communities, yet we have received only two clubhouses - and one of them was already taken for something else, and one is apparently going to be used for youth at risk, such that there is nothing for normative youth. And what about younger children at risk? - There is no informal framework for them. When they come home from school, there is nowhere for them to go, except for1.5 playgrounds for little children, and nothing else; for older children - nothing."

      The report further states that youth workers and counselors have been told to prepare farewell activities. This is in light of a letter from the Education Ministry Youth and Society Administration informing us of a halt to all activities as of this month, because of the lack of budget.

      "The State is ignoring the true needs of the expellees in terms of social aid," the report states. "The youths have difficulty communicating with outside social workers who did not work in Gush Katif before the evacuation. It is hard to receiv advice and treatment from unfamiliar people, and the problem of lack of trust is more acute for youth. The State does not recognize the need to budget social workers who are familiar to the youth from their Gush Katif days."

      Hearings are held on these matters in the Knesset, but they are moving very slowly, and the "long bureaucratic process prevents the necessary help from arriving immediately."

      "Following the ideological crisis regarding the State and the army that they underwent," the report continues, "the youth display lack of trust in all types of leadership - religious, military, communal, and governmental." The report emphasizes that many youths continue to enlist in the IDF and even to volunteer for elite combat units.

      "Parental authority has been totally eroded in all sectors. The numbers of divorces and destruction of the family cell have increased - damaging even more the sense of stability among the youth."