Violence, especially amongst young people is one of the many problems facing countries around the world.
A report by the World Health Organization (WHO) titled ‘Preventing violence by developing life skills in children and adolescents’ notes that every day, worldwide, an estimated 227 children and youths (age 0-19 years) die as a result of interpersonal violence, and for each death many more are hospitalised with injuries from this violence.
These deaths may or may not be inside school yards. However, I am of the belief that the education system can play a major role by equipping learners with social skills.
There is ample evidence suggesting that the behaviour most highly correlated with school homicides is previous suicide attempts or suicidal thoughts.
Many of the learners who kill teachers or other learners have one thing in common – they lack social skills.
The WHO report adds that:
While school, family and community partnerships may not directly deliver life skills, they can help create an environment that is conducive to their delivery through other methods. Studies show that such partnerships have been associated with higher achievement in school and reduced behavioural problems in young people. For example, the Communities that Care (CtC) programme in the United States empowers communities to address youth behavioural problems by identifying and acting upon locally-relevant risk and protective factors. A randomised controlled trial of CtC found lower initiation to violence, theft and vandalism among children from participating communities compared with those in a control group.
Social skills is not just about telling young people what’s wrong, it’s also about showing them what is right.
To have effective results, these skills have to be encouraged at school, in the community and at home. A major concern is that learners learn one thing at school and as soon as they leave the school yard, they learn something that is totally different, even when they get at home it’s the total opposite – there’s no cohesion.
Young people would grow up in safe environments only if these three parties agree on one message. Everyone is waiting on the education system to reach out.
Ending violence with social skills will require everyone to teach the same message.