School intervention programme reaps success with students
The Supervised School Intervention Programme of the Dispute Resolution Foundation (DRF) was born out of concern for the well-being of youngsters who have been suspended from school and who were often observed partaking in idle activities for the suspension period.
The initiative, brainchild of DRF network manager Sharon Young Palmer, was started at the Foundation's Spanish Town Peace and Justice Centre in 2006 and later expanded to the peace and justice centres in St James, Clarendon, St Catherine, and Kingston.
"I conceptualised the Supervised School Intervention Programme because it was my observation that students were suspended from school and were sent home for a period, but they had no treatment for what led to the suspension, and so the behavioural problems continued," Young Palmer said.
She said that the initial stages of the programme highlighted the root causes of certain antisocial and maladaptive behaviours, which usually leads to the suspension of the students.
These included underlying challenges from circumstances such as loss of a parent, untreated trauma, parental separation, as well as academic and intellectual difficulties at school.
"It became necessary for us to solicit support from guidance counsellors in the schools. They would volunteer an hour or two, and they would be matched with students from schools other than their own and given great assistance in treating some of the conditions," Young Palmer said.
She further noted that a component of the programme is geared at rapport building, achieved through techniques introduced in the playing of games such as chess and dominoes.
SESSIONS FOR PARENTS
She said the programme also conducts parenting sessions to ensure that parents have a clearer understanding of the experiences of their children and are prepared to provide support.
One 13-year-old Windward Road Primary and Junior High School student, who was suspended after getting into a fight, praised the programme for helping her deal with her anger problems and for teaching her ways to prevent conflict with her peers.
"I am really feeling good. I am satisfied that we introduced this programme to the schools and the wider community ... and it's heart-warming, and I am motivated to continue," Young Palmer said.