Adolescent Girls in Israel: An Analysis of Data from Selected Studies

Studies of adolescent girls reveal that, unlike boys, who often express their distress in violence and vandalism and attract social or public attention, many girls tend to internalize their distress and anger, directing them toward themselves. Because of this, they attract public attention only when their situation is acute, which hinders their rehabilitation. This raises the need to study the characteristics of girls on the continuum of risk.

This analysis is the third in a series of studies conducted in the framework of “Girls on the Map”, in partnership with the Service for Girls and Young Women of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Ashalim – the Association for Planning and Development of Services for Children and Youth at Risk and Their Families. The study analyzes the characteristics of  girls ages 13-21, from major sub-groups in the population. The series has two other studies: One focused on adolescent girls in severe risk situations, examining the characteristics and needs of girls in the care of the Service for Girls and Young Women of the Ministry of Social Affairs. The other maps the services and programs in Israel for adolescent girls along the continuum of risk.

This report presents a secondary analysis of findings from a number of studies of youth that were conducted in recent years by the Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute and other organizations. The analysis highlights similarities and differences between adolescent girls and boys, in order to identify needs that are unique to girls of different ages and population groups and that require special attention when planning responses and programs for them.

The findings confirm that adolescent girls are less likely than boys to engage in behaviors considered disruptive, such as violence, substance abuse, and dropout. In addition, girls tend to have better relationships both with their peers and their parents. They are also more inclined to seek help when in distress. On the other hand, the findings indicate areas in which girls’ needs are greater than those of boys: their sense of well being, perception of self, and perception of health. These needs grow as the girls grow older. Contrary to other areas of need among adolescents, these areas receive very limited attention in the Israeli service system.

The heterogeneous nature of Israeli society also expresses itself in the needs of the girls and it is important to distinguish among the different groups:

  • Alcohol consumption is higher and increases with age among girls from the FSU. They are also more alienated from school than other girls.
  • Relationships with parents are poorer among Arab girls and also deteriorate with age.
  • General well being is poorer among immigrant and Arab girls.

The studies point to the need to be more sensitive to the different needs of girls and to the needs of girls in different groups. They also point to the potential of using their positive and favorable attitude toward school, their strength in having social relationships and their openness to seeking help, as a starting point for developing programs. The findings were presented to the “Girls on the Map” forum, which is conducted by Ashalim, and served as a basis for discussion and for planning services for girls who attend school.

The analysis was made possible by a special grant from Annie Sandler of Virginia, USA.

Citations in the professional and academic literature

Farbstein, I., Apter, A., Kanaaneh, R., Stein, N., Hava Palti MD, M. P. P. H., Khwaled, R., & Ponizovsky, A. M. (2010). The Israel survey of mental health among adolescents: aims and methods. The Israel journal of psychiatry and related sciences47(4), 244.

Cohen-Medina, H., & Ben-David, S. (2016). A Comparative Study on Self-Monitoring: an Updated Perspective on Normative Versus At-risk Youth. Child Indicators Research9(4), 873-888.

Piller, S., Gibly, J., & Peled, E. (2019). The value and rationale of gender‐specific intervention with at‐risk adolescent girls. Child & Family Social Work24(1), 69-76.