Contestants in the 2016 Richard Stoute Teen Talent Competition will not only challenge each other on the stage, for the second year, they also have to write on critical national issues. Barbados TODAY will be featuring those essays throughout the contest. This week’s essay addresses the issue of school violence.
by Jalissa Edwards
Violence is defined as physical force that does harm or damage. School is an institution of organized learning at the primary, secondary and tertiary level.
School violence is an undesirable form of behaviour which prevents students from properly following their course of activities and which must be eradicated if progress is to be made and goals achieved in education.
Violence is prevalent in schools in Barbados – from the nursery to the primary, secondary and tertiary levels of learning.
In the nursery school, children are often involved in squabbles which often end in violent fights. When many of these fights occur, teachers, parents or guardians often resort to violence by the use of lashes to settle differences.
In many nursery schools, a day hardly passes without fights taking place during recess. And there are no clear codes or guidelines for teachers to handle such violent situations among the little ones.
As children grow older, many of their behavioural habits are passed on and violence becomes more intense. In these situations, objects like pencils, knives and blunt instruments are often used.
Many teachers are unable to handle such situations when they occur and the principal is called in. Such violent incidents inside and outside of the primary school may cause classes to be disrupted.
At the level of the secondary school, violence becomes virtually epidemic. There have been cases of hospitalization involving serious injury and even death in some instances. Secondary students
are often very strong, obstinate and dominant. This is where serious bullying takes place.
Students who may not achieve success in academics often take out their frustration and underachievement on those who are more ambitious but very quiet and may be unable to resist.
At the secondary school too, peer groups are formed. These are often like gangs; they go places together and their behaviour follows a similar pattern. They can viciously attack others and it is very difficult to resist them. There are institutions where some of these bullies are referred such as The Edna Nicholls School, The Government Industrial School and Summervale School for girls.
There are several ways in which violence can be prevented and, in this respect, several agencies can play a role. These include the church, the home, the media and also the attitudes of students. Parents are mostly responsible for the rearing of children. From infancy, they should instill good habits and practices in their children and good manners and attitudes towards each other. If children all live well within the family, they are likely to live well with other children.
Parents need to avoid flogging their children even though religious teaching advises them to do so. Flogging can cause children to be fearful and if they are fearful, they might allow themselves to be bullied or might become angry and take revenge by bullying others.
This is perhaps why some children who are flogged, strike their mates when they develop relationships. Males against females and females against males. The home is therefore the place where good habits are learned and adopted.
Mention has been made of violence in the school system but where there is violence, greater effort should be made to find solutions. Teachers possess great influence over their students and can use a number of methods such as class discussions, lectures by visitors, educational movies, plays or skits.
These provide an opportunity for students to engage in lively discussion. Out of these discussions, great strides can be made to reduce or even eliminate violence in schools.
The media have one of the most impactful roles in solving the problem of violence in schools. More than ever before, the media act like an octopus which has eight long tentacles. For example, the newspaper, which carries stories and messages in a printed form.
Then there is radio which is an auditory device. Songs from the radio carry important messages which transform human lives and can help to end the violence. Television transmits many wonderful shows which deal with numerous topics. Some of these topics have dealt with and can deal with violence in its myriad forms.
The newer devices include Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and Skype. All of these facilitate personal interaction so that persons can communicate with each other locally, regionally and internationally, sharing views and ideas about violence and how it should be eliminated.
The youth are often attracted by these forms of social media and therefore they can produce great and effective results. Students’ attitudes are impacted by these devices. It is a responsibility of all persons in my country to try to eliminate or reduce the impact of violence in schools.
What a good and blessed country Barbados would be if its people live in peace and harmony! Maybe this is why Barbados is thought of as an island paradise. So let us all try to eliminate school violence and all other forms of distasteful behaviour to make the dream of an Island paradise come true.