Intervention needed to combat violence in schools

There needs to be a heavy emphasis on the teaching of anger management, conflict resolution and general life skills to students in local schools, to combat the level of aggression and violence being seen in our educational institutions of late.

Shawn Clarke, CEO of Supreme Counselling for Personal Development (SCPD) and the island’s Olweus Bullying Prevention Programme Consultant, offered this view amidst reports that a 16-year-old student was fatally stabbed by another student, a 15-year-old, at the Frederick Smith Secondary School yesterday afternoon, after an altercation between the two.

“Firstly, I want to offer my condolences to the family of the young man who was stabbed and killed at the school. At the end of the day now, it is a minimum of two families that will go into some level of depression. One family will be mourning the loss of a loved one and the 15-year-old, his future is now in jeopardy because of the incident and then you have the onlookers,” Clarke, whose organisation works with at-risk students in select schools, noted.

Pointing out that he received calls from concerned parents at the St. James-based school yesterday whilst he was overseas, he added, “I have had calls from four parents, from those (whose children) are in the Supreme Programme, saying my child witnessed what happened and he or she can’t stop crying. So it is really going to affect now an entire community, what has happened.

“I know that we have been having talks, I know that the Ministry of Education is trying, but I think it is time that we become a bit more proactive and see this thing through. Just don’t talk about it for a month and then leave it there, but it is high time that we see this thing through, because we are losing our young people,” he stressed.

Clarke maintained that in the same way emphasis is placed on teaching students various academic subjects in schools, life skills must be taught in the same way, to help them address their anger.

“We need to invest time, money and energy into really teaching our children conflict resolution skills. We need to invest time in teaching our children anger management skills, we need to place the same level of emphasis that we are placing on Spanish and on French and on Biology, we need to place that same emphasis now on these life skills, because at the end of the day, we have students who graduate schools with eight academic subjects and they don’t have the foundation, they cannot manage their anger, they cannot resolve conflict without getting into the stabbing and so on, so then we are really not doing anything for our society,” Clarke commented.

“So I am thinking it is high time that we not only talk, but we put our words into action and try to save our young people because what has happened a few moments ago, has not only affected one family or two families, but it has affected an entire school. It has affected a community and we need to realise now that this thing is no longer a talk thing, this thing is real. We have to realise now that this is our reality and we have to become realistic in the way we deal with it,” Clarke said. (RSM)

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