Put conflict resolution on school curriculum
THE EDITOR, Sir:
Most of us have heard mothers, especially, shouting to children, "Anybody lick you, tump dem back." Many of the tragedies we hear of started years before with this exhortation.
Police records now show that the overwhelming majority of killings and woundings are a result of the feeling that violence is the first resort to any conflict.
Schools provide a captive and receptive audience. From an early age, we need to teach young children non-violent ways to resolve conflicts and promote a healthy social and emotional environment. The PALS programme was in place for a number of years, but it never got the support it deserved and needed. Much of what it offered was optional for teachers. Many of them ignored it, as it did not carry any additional financial benefits.
Conflicts are all around us. The first step is to understand conflicts. Then we must be able to identify the problem. Whether it is in the formal setting of Parliament or over a flask of white rum in a bar, people should be able to robustly debate issues and make concessions or compromises without rancour. The best way to learn this is at an early age from trained persons and for it to be reinforced in the home.
Resolving conflicts peacefully is an important skill for children to learn both in the classroom and at home. Conflict resolution can be infused into any subject, so it should be a central part of any curriculum. Mediation and conflict-resolution courses are offered in tertiary institutions in every developed country. The goal is not to eliminate conflict, but to help children to learn empathy and assertiveness while solving problems with each other in a peaceful manner.
Stony Hill, St Andrew