Arm students with conflict resolution skills

In light of recent, as well as past reports about violence in schools, it is evident that our school children need to be taught conflict resolution skills, in a more dynamic fashion.

If we are to be truly honest, school fights are nothing new. However, what is a matter for grave concern, is the fact that these fights of late, are getting uglier and more violent and students involved are coming away with injuries that leave them scarred for life. While the focus, given reports in the press this week, may be on young males, concern has also been expressed about the number of female students getting involved in fights and violent altercations.

We can all accept that in these times in which we live, conflict is inevitable. We see conflict being played out at the political level, across communities, in workplaces and sadly, in homes. What is key however, is the handling of the conflict as it surfaces, since a situation handled in a less than desirable way, will likely escalate the underlying problem and fuel will be added to the fire. That said, it is time to move away from the various talk shops that we at times like to engage in and see how we can address the matter of student violence, before we become like our international counterparts, who have to deal with mass shootings on school compounds or some other form of school violence that would be catastrophic.

If you ask me (and no one did, but I will state my views anyway), it seems that great value is no longer placed on having good student-to-student relationships. The whole concept of being one’s brother or sister is lost on some of our children, because sadly, this lack of empathy and concern for others, is what children and youth are seeing modelled by adults, in close proximity to them. We can then see how this translates to older youth having a mindset to bully or attack others, or even take a life, without so much as a second thought, as the seeds are sown early on in childhood and adolescence, based on observational learning.

Nonetheless, it is sad that some students see fighting as the only acceptable way to resolve disagreements and the almost animalistic tendencies that emerge are certainly cause for concern, as it appears that some students are bent on really doing damage, when these fights take place. Of course, we have to examine every case on its own merit, as some students are simply lashing out, after being the victims of a wave of bullying and abuse for some time. Whatever the reasons for the physical fights, we must set some programme in place to ensure that students are given the basic skills necessary for solving and resolving daily conflicts with other students and even authority figures. Students need to be presented with a practical positive mediation process that is useful, culturally relevant and can reap some measure of success, in curbing these violent school fights. We keep getting the signal that something needs to be done about them. So let us not ignore the issue, but act now, before it is too late.

Barbados Advocate

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