"Inspiring, Educating and Entertaining the World"
PREVENTING SCHOOL VIOLENCE
SOME UPDATED THOUGHTS FROM A YEAR OF DOING SCHOOL PROGRAMS BY DAVE STREET, CERTIFIED EDUCATOR, MEMBER, NJ CONFERENCE OF MAYORS SPECIAL TASK FORCE ON PREVENTING SCHOOL VIOLENCE, PRESENTER: "HOW TO MANAGE OUR ANGER AND IMPROVE OUR PLANET
Over this past year, I have been doing an 'anger management' program in schools throughout our state, including high schools, middle schools, alternative schools and technical schools.
As part of my experience, I have also been collecting comments from students about things that made them angry.
I've focused on anger because I truly believe that most acts of destruction and violence begin with anger.
WHAT MAKES YOUNG PEOPLE ANGRY
After receiving thousands of responses from young people throughout our state as to what makes them angry, I have found two categories of situations that they usually refer to:
1) UNFAIR THINGS. Quite often I've been told by young men and young women in schools that they are angry, and sometimes even filled with rage, because of something 'Unfair" or "Not Fair" that has happened to them
2) MEAN THINGS THAT OTHER PEOPLE DO TO THEM. The other major category was 'mean' things that have been done to them, usually by other people. In this category are such negative experiences as being made fun of, being teased, being ridiculed, having people spread rumors about them and having people talk about them behind their back.
Here are some real quotes from New Jersey Students as to what makes them angry in response to the question; "What makes you angry ?" These quotes were written on index cards in their classrooms and then forwarded to me.
-People that talk about me.
-When people talk about my dad.
-Someone who spreads rumors about me or my friends.
-When somebody talks about my family.
-When rumors about you go around school.
-When someone looks at me the wrong way.
-When people make fun of other people and hurt their feelings.
-When people discriminate against others.
-When people get made fun of by others.
-My brother makes me angry.
-My sister makes me angry.
-My brothers and the rest of my family.
-When my brother does something and I get blamed for it.
-My parents sometimes make me mad.
-When I get blamed for everything. Even if I wasn't at home when it happened I get blamed.
-I get mad when my brothers and sister make fun of me constantly.
These are only a few of the responses I received. As you can see, there are a variety of reasons for their anger.
Another alarming phenomenon I noticed was that a lot of young people complained about their brothers and sisters. This was true even though the question was directed towards what made them angry as students.
I am especially concerned by how many students told me they 'hate' their brothers or sisters. Either the word 'hate' means something casual to this generation, or we need to start focusing on strengthening the American family as a place where brothers and sisters learn fairness and cooperation.
THE GOOD NEWS
There is much good news, though. Most of the students I met, despite their anger and emotional frustrations, did seem to have a kind, loving spirit and almost all the young people I met seemed hungry for positive advice on how to be a good person and be successful in life.
I truly believe that we adults must now begin to not just talk about solutions, but start implementing them in our own communities.
THE POWER OF GOODNESS
As a general concept, I would like to suggest that we need to instill in our youth faith in the power of goodness.
It is up to us as adults to do that. We need to show our young citizens, through our actions, by the words we choose to express our thoughts and by the way we treat each other that there are fair and enjoyable ways for us to resolve our differences and happily live together.
SOME SUGGESTED SOLUTIONS
The first two solutions are specifically geared for our schools, the third is geared for helping to strengthen our families.
1) SAFE PLACES IN SCHOOLS. Every school needs to have designated safe places, such as a special classroom or office space, where students who are feeling angry, emotionally upset or in need of friendship can immediately go to.
There should also always be a guidance counselor or qualified adult advisor present. This should also be a place in school that always has a friendly and caring atmosphere.
Any student who has been teased, made fun of or has been talked about behind her or his back needs such places to immediately go to in order to instantly feel good about being in school.
2. ZERO TOLERANCE FOR BULLYING AND TEASING. The day must come when we no longer accept bullying and teasing as something 'natural' that children participate in. Starting with kindergarten, no child should ever be ridiculed or teased.
However, we also need to recognize that many children who do the bullying and teasing themselves are often the victims of emotional abuse in their homes and neighborhoods. Therefore, it is also important that the educational system provides help and counseling for those who are inclined to bully and ridicule others.
3. HELPING PARENTS. We need to help parents build families in which their children develop a sense of fairness. I believe this is paramount to having a decent society, since so much anger among young people is directed at their brothers and sisters because of feelings of being treated unfairly at home. I am not suggesting that the government interfere with families. I am suggesting that some kind of guidance and support be made available to parents to help them organize their extremely busy schedules in a way to make it easier for them to make fair and judicial decisions in their own households.
Anyone wishing to contact me about these ideas or stay in touch with me as I do programs with more students next year, please contact me at my Website at http://www.davestreet.net/character.html or by phone at 908-757-8939.