Violence in our society is pervasive. If we are not careful this negative behavior spills over into the schools, where tension builds up and conflicts go unresolved, assaults on children, teachers and property are commonplace. There is evidence from studies that the younger we can reach a child to change a negative behavior into a positive, better the chances are that this goal is achieved. Educational institutions which should provide a positive environment for resisting the drift toward violence are seldom effective in dealing with the causes of antisocial behavior. The big question is why? One reason is because the students don’t have a positive role model to follow at home. Children see their parents, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, and others doing wrong and are not caught or punished for their action. Therefore, they feel that they too can do the same thing and walk away clean. Even the school environment is not consistent in the punishments which are administered to children for inappropriate behavior.
There is much being done to stamp out violence by methods which are themselves violent toward children in conflict. These methods only confirms the notion that violence is an acceptable, if not preferable, method of solving problems. Such methods are dehumanizing and fail to provide children with positive alternatives to violent patterns of behavior. Children should learn how to confront situation without being aggressive.
What are the roots of violence? The roots of conflict lie deep in our culture and are reflected in the kinds of behavior our society promotes: competition, hostility in response to aggression or fear, and the put-downs we hear daily in the classrooms, corridors and playgrounds of our schools. We should teach our children to deal with the roots of conflicts and not merely the symptoms. It should be the goal of the teachers, parents and the community to move beyond the treatment of isolated crisis situations by developing a positive dynamic which motivates children to respond to conflict constructively. If we focus our attention exclusively on the immediate crisis, whether it is in the classroom or the community, is like cutting off a weed at the soil line, while underground the hidden roots continue to send up new and vigorous shoots.
We find that children develop positive self-esteem and learn to be open, sharing and cooperative much more effectively when they become part of a community in which these attributes are the norm. In such an atmosphere they discover better ways to relate to one another as well as to themselves. It is not enough to talk about these ideas. In order for them to be effective they must be reflected in the organization of the classroom. Instead of telling children that violence is wrong or evil, we need a positive classroom environment where violence seems totally out of place and our actions are examples of constructive approaches to problem solving.
We must present our children with enjoyable tools that encourage them to discover for themselves solutions to problems and conflicts arising our of their own real-life experiences. They are the ones who decide which of these will be most beneficial to them in terms of their own personal goals. Keep in mind that the best way to understand the action is to practice it, correctly of course.