Reducing Violence in Our Lives
Many of us, including our policemen and women have become accustomed to solving conflict with violence. There is too much violence in our lives. We are losing our ability to resolve conflict verbally. Many adults and children live in terror that they or a loved one will be killed or maimed by a gunshot. We can change this by;
- curbing all gun sales,
- teaching gun safety at home in school, and using internet resources,
- linking schools to local community mental health services,
- teaching conflict resolution skills.
The other day on the radio I heard a young man say that he was going to jail for 30 years for shooting and wounding someone. He was crying. He deeply regretted what he had done. He solved a conflict with a gunshot in a moment of anger. It appears that this young man did not learn gun safety, and the importance of verbal resolution of conflict.
Families used to teach gun safety to their children. They may have learned to unload guns before bringing them in the house, and to store them in a locked cabinet. They didn’t watch endless violent gun deaths on TV.
Gun safety could be taught on the media. Gun safety could be the subject of children’s picture books and early readers. This might help to develop a culture of gun safety.
We could also teach and practice conflict resolution in our school books.
In the past, many parents taught children to resolve disagreements with words rather than violent actions. In recent years, parents must work at odd hours of the day and night. They must delegate child rearing to a caretaker who may not be a family member. The caretaker may or may not understand the necessity of encouraging the preschooler’s skills in communication, self-control and interpersonal relationships.
Children used to stay after school if they misbehaved, or perhaps they were sent to the principal. Parents were called in to be part of the discussion and punishment. Now parents will lose their jobs if they leave work for a school visit. Much of child rearing must be accomplished in preschool and school.
Many schools have developed policies of zero tolerance resulting in punishment of minor misdemeanors with suspension and expulsion. These severe punishments do not teach or encourage a child to resolve conflict. Rather they may damage a child’s reputation and prevent his or her opportunity to learn conflict resolution.
Beginning in preschool, children need the opportunity to learn self-control, teamwork, and group participation. These skills prepare a child for kindergarten. The very patient teacher must develop a positive relationship with the students, and a positive and a supportive community atmosphere in the classroom. S/he must believe in conflict resolution.
We have succeeded in developing a violent and punitive culture. How about working on a peaceful and cooperative one! Let’s give every child and opportunity to learn both gun safety and conflict resolution. From Promise The Children, we wish you merry holiday over the next week!