Wed | Aug 23, 2017

Conflict Resolution Corner | Fight or flight

Published:Sunday | March 5, 2017 | 3:00 AMSandria Watkis-Madden
Sandria Watkis- Madden
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Welcome to a new feature, the Dispute Resolution Foundation (DRF), School Intervention Programme (SIP), Conflict Resolution Corner. This will be run over the next six weeks as we provide tips on dealing with conflict, particularly among children.

Reports last week of one 16-year-old girl fatally stabbing another 16-year-old girl in Lucea, Hanover, has underscored the need for more efforts to be made to educate Jamaicans on ways to resolve conflicts before they end in violence.

The SIP exists as a vital limb of the DRF by supporting the goal of developing a peaceful culture in Jamaica.

The SIP does this by identifying at-risk young persons between the ages of 10 and 18, and provides them with child-friendly alternative dispute resolution services and training.

The exemplary youth peace facilitators teach these students important lessons in conflict resolution, managing anger, restorative justice, anti-bullying, self-esteem, peer pressure, goal setting, emotional intelligence, child rights, drug abuse, and mediation.

The core values of the SIP, affirmation, communication, cooperation, respect, confidentiality and neutrality are engraved into the students that are served by the programme.

 

Why do we need conflict resolution in schools?

 

Conflict is all around us, we can't avoid it. We can't escape, and we certainly can't eliminate it. As long as we occupy this world we can be sure of one thing, and that's being involved in conflicts.

 

What is a conflict?

 

According to Dictionary.com, conflict is "to come into collision or disagreement; be contradictory, at variance, or in opposition." And based on the meaning, we can see why we cannot escape or eliminate conflict. We also are aware that no two persons are alike, they differ physically, morally, intellectually.

They have different needs, values, goals, likes and desires. In fact, each person is unique and when, in their interdependent relationships, they encounter others with different needs, values, goals and likes, conflict will arise. There will always be disagreements in our lives and opposition is just as certain.

 

So how do we deal with conflicts?

 

The first step is to work on self. The DRF has put forward six core values for effective conflict resolution which the foundation believes, if applied to our daily lives, will greatly improve our conflict-resolution skills.

These core values are affirmation, communication, cooperation, respect, confidentiality, and neutrality.

Also important in conflict resolution are anger management, emotional intelligence, self-esteem, and goal setting, which we will explore as time progresses.

The second step is to understand conflict in its entirety. What are the causes of conflicts, the dynamics of conflicts, the elements of conflicts, the types of conflicts, the styles of conflicts, and ways/methods use to address/resolve conflicts.

The third step is to know that not all conflicts can be resolved but all conflicts can be managed. In other words, let the Serenity Prayer be your guide in dealing with conflicts;

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

- Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)

- Sandria Watkis-Madden is a youth peace facilitator/mediator based at the Dispute Resolution Foundation (DRF) head of the DRF School Intervention Programme in Clarendon. Feedback: editorial@gleanerjm.com or,drf@drfja.org or, sandria.watkis.madden@gmail.com