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MJB Seminar explores immigrant youth needs

24/12/2012
MJB Seminar explores immigrant youth needs

“Integrating the immigrant youth is the key to integrating the entire immigrant family,” explained Paula Kahan, Senior Researcher with MJB’s Engelberg Center for Children and Youth, at the Institute Seminar on First and Second Generations of Immigrant Youth from Ethiopia and the Former Soviet Union, held on Monday, December 10, 2012. 


Conducted in cooperation with the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption and with the support of the Harry Weinrebe Fund for the Advancement of Children at the Institute, which also supported the study, the seminar attracted over 100 professionals and researchers to explore the findings of MJB’s national study and discussed the successes and remaining challenges. 


The study of first- and second-generation immigrant youth from Ethiopia and the Former Soviet Union is in fact the second national MJB study on this topic. A comprehensive review of the integration of first-generation immigrant youth from various countries was published in 2010.


At the seminar, participants were divided into roundtable groups to delve deeper into specific issues that emerged from the second study—education, parent-child relations, risk behaviors, social identity, and national service.

The discussions focused on the similarities across the immigrant youth experience as well as the differences between the different communities and between the first and the second generations. Comparisons to the general Israeli youth population were also made.

 DID YOU KNOW?

  • There are about 60,000 first-and second-generation immigrants from the former Soviet Union (FSU) aged 12-17 in Israel (39,000 and 21,000 respectively)
  • There are about 18,000 first- and second-generation immigrants from Ethiopia aged 12-17 in Israel (10,000 and 8,000 respectively)
  • Only half of Ethiopian-Israeli youth in Israel feel they have someone to turn to at school, compared with two-thirds of immigrant youth from the FSU
  • Over half of second-generation Ethiopian-Israeli youth failed two or more classes in the past school year compared with one-fifth to one-quarter among all Jewish youth and first- and second-generation immigrant youth from the FSU
  • One-third of first- and second-generation immigrant youth from the FSU and Ethiopia believe that immigrants and non-immigrants fail to understand one another
  • Over 90% of the 16-17 year olds in the first- and second-generation immigrant youth from the FSU and Ethiopia are planning to serve in the Israeli army

“The study is very significant for service planning,” explained Sara Cohen, Director of the Social Services Department of the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption. “It allows us to think more clearly about the direction we are heading towards.”

Cohen’s comments spoke to the fact that, in addition to a comprehensive picture of the situation facing first- and second-generation immigrant youth in all areas of life, MJB’s study offered a menu of practical programmatic options to address the challenges facing Israel’s immigrant youth.

 

These include:

  • Increasing the accessibility of professionals, including school staff, and their awareness of the needs of first-generation immigrants
  • Increasing parental involvement in the status of their children in school – greater participation in PTA meetings and school activities
  • Developing initiatives for working with parents to reinforce their involvement in their children's lives, including greater parental supervision as needed
  • Paying attention to risk behaviors such as alcohol consumption, chiefly among the first generation of FSU immigrants and the second generation of Ethiopian immigrants

Michal Herzog, who represented the Harry Weinrebe Fund, pointed to the research’s value to philanthropic organizations. “The study can help foundations to know what issues to support and how to support them in the right way.”

 

Click here for the Executive Summary and Research Report in Hebrew.

 

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