Introduce anger management workshops in schools to end violence

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A file picture of pupils in a classroom. The writers say they often visit schools and notice that there are, in too many instances, inadequate desks and chairs available for all the learners. Picture: Reuters/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Imagine, a home where a child is raised by a single parent. A single parent who maybe leaves home around 5am hurrying to the train station to work and comes back at home in the evening around 7pm. There is no balance in overseeing the child’s development. She misses the whole day of his/her child. She is never sure that the child even attended school, because the parent leaves home before the child even wakes up.

Meaning, because a parent does not have enough time to spend with the child, a child has no choice but to raise himself/herself. The truth is such a parent, cannot spend enough time with the child because of a reasonable fact, “Employment”. The parent would be seeking money which contributes to the needs of the child. But when a child is mostly spending time alone, doing what they like, when they like- they sometimes lose the culture of discipline. This is just an example of many reasons that makes children end up losing the value of discipline. 

I think teachers in schools are faced with grooming learners that have belonging issues. Lonely learners, learners who are clouded by anger issues. Which makes me curious in always wanting to find out, which kind of learners are we dealing with in schools? Are we dealing with learners who focuses on their studies and known for respect, tolerance of others?  Or just the famous ones who are known for attacking, insulting and bullying others?  

I hope learners that are crowding our school premises are those we are proud of what they are becoming. We need learners who are not only ambitious about their future but understand their discipline in life is one that will determine their success. A viral video of Crystal Park High School learners showing a pupil being beaten up by her peers is truly an embarrassment and demonstrates how violence has been an answer to our kids.  

In the video, the pupil is being kicked and slapped across the face multiple times. What shall we do to raise disciplined learners? Could running anger management workshops in schools be a solution? Do we need to equip our learners about ways to handle conflicts within schools’ premises?

Yes, that is one solution that I think will help to empower learners with tools of self-discipline, respect and emotional intelligence. Also, this will be a platform to understand the issues faced by these learners. While it is easy to think that beating other learners is a violence issue, the cause should also be taken into account. I do not think we are doing enough to empower and assist learners who suffer with anger issues.  

Discipline means teaching acceptable behaviours and unlearning maladaptive behaviours with support, guidance and direction in managing behaviour. Discipline is about setting limits, clarifying roles, responsibilities and mutual expectations and creating a predictable, orderly and stable life. It is not punitive and is in the best interests of the child.

Creating safer schools requires a whole-school approach. The school is made up of several ‘components’, namely, learners, educators, principals, school management teams, school governing bodies (SGBs), and parents or caregivers. Together, these components interact and exist within the greater system of the home and community. Only by dealing with all aspects of the system will violence ultimately be reduced and eradicated. This calls for a carefully targeted, coherent system of programmes and interventions that complement rather than duplicate each other.

This requires the continuous support and dedication of school administrators, principals, educators, support staff, learners and caregivers. There are three main components to a whole school approach, namely:

1) Establishing a positive ethos and environment: Schools need to create an inclusive, respectful culture that promotes and protects respect for human rights. School management teams need to promote democratic management and decision-making at all levels. They also need to create a policy framework that is in line with South Africa’s constitution and legislation, and protects and promotes safety and respect for human rights.

2) Involving caregivers and communities: Schools need to work with caregivers to understand and address safety issues. Schools can also tap into and support activities within the broader community. Identifying and establishing linkages with relevant community stakeholders can help schools to provide specific and specialised interventions and support. It can also help to ensure that activities within schools and communities complement one another.

3) Curriculum development: Schools need to develop and integrate teaching materials into existing curricula to support the achievement of a safe and respectful environment. Respect for human rights needs to be incorporated into all relevant curricula and equip children with the information and skills to help create a safer school. Underlying all three of these components is evidence-based decision-making and monitoring and evaluation.

It is important that strategies are informed by high-quality information to ensure responsive interventions. The collection and analysis of data on changes in the safety of educators and learners can also help schools to assess how well interventions are working and if and where changes need to be made. A well-functioning monitoring and evaluation system can help schools to feel confident about their progress in achieving a safer school environment.

The focus must be on maintaining a safe and dignified schooling environment for learners – where learners can do school work – and picking up litter are viable options. Any other ways of discussion and engagement that allows learners to learn insight into their wrongful actions are encouraged. South Africa has a number of laws that protect learners from corporal punishment and abuse. Section 12(1) of the Constitution states that everyone has the right to freedom and security, including the rights: to be free from all forms of violence, not to be tortured, treated or punished in a cruel, inhuman or degrading way.

The School Safety Framework takes a whole-school approach to assessing and improving school safety. The materials start from the premise that well managed schools that have clear rules and consequences, fair procedures and involve all members of the school community (educators, caregivers, principals, administrators) and other actors experience lower levels of violence.

They also create an environment that supports better teaching and learning. The four main pillars of the School Safety Framework always entail – being prepared, being aware, taking action and taking care. All these pillars emphasise a clear policy framework, the creation of a human rights culture, building relationships between all members of the school community, and nurturing partnerships to support learners and build school safety. Introduce anger management workshops in schools to end violence because blaming parents for their children’s ill behaviour, teachers or any involvement participants will not solve our issue of violence in schools.

 

Siwaphiwe Myataza is a Political Science graduate from the University of the Western Cape. Managing Director of Village Girl Creatives, a Media Hub.