How Schools Can Empower Students and Staff to End Violence in Classroom?

How Schools Can Empower Students and Staff to End Violence in Classroom?

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End Violence in Classroom

Understanding Classroom Violence

Classroom violence encompasses various forms of violence, including physical altercations between students, corporal punishment, verbal abuse, rape, and sexual harassment. It is a concerning issue that affects both students and faculty within schools.

Why Does Classroom Violence Occur?

Exploring the reasons behind classroom violence can be complex. Factors contributing to violence among students are diverse. Some students may imitate behaviour they witness in media, such as on TV, in video games, or movies, or even from their surroundings. Mental health issues can also play a role in some students’ violent behavior. Additionally, students who engage in violence may have experienced bullying, loneliness, or rejection from their peers. These are just a few examples of the many factors that can lead to student violence.

Types of Classroom Violence

The World Report on Violence Against Children identifies several primary types of violence in classrooms, including physical and psychological punishment, bullying, sexual and gender-based violence, and external violence, which encompasses the impact of gangs, conflicts, weapons, and fighting.

Surveys:

Violence in schools and classrooms can have long-lasting negative effects on students’ lives, futures, and communities. Unfortunately, violence has become a daily issue for far too many students in India and worldwide. However, by working together, positive changes can be made.

  • Research conducted by The Teacher Foundation between 2013 and 2017 in 15 Indian cities revealed that 42% of students in grades 4–8 and 36% of students in grades 9–12 reported being harassed by classmates on campus. This harassment could range from teasing to actual physical violence.
  • According to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data from 2021, Tamil Nadu has the highest rate of crimes against students in schools, including physical assault, sexual harassment, and bullying.
  • A 2019 survey by The Teacher Foundation and Wipro Applying Thought in Schools (WATIS) conducted in nine Indian cities found that 42% of students in grades 4th through 8th and 36% of students in grades 9th through 12th have encountered classroom violence.

Also read: Quality Education, Empowered Teachers, Engaged Parents: This School Leader’s Winning Formula

Effects of Classroom Violence

School violence has negative consequences for students. They may experience fear, anxiety, and anticipation, leading to psychological issues. Additionally, students may develop depression, become antisocial, or suffer from mental trauma. Physical aggression can cause harm and injuries to students, as well as damage to school property.

How Schools Can Empower Students and Staff to End Violence in the Classroom?

Schools are meant to provide safe and supportive environments for learning. It is crucial to actively monitor and address violent and aggressive behaviour in classrooms. The following suggestions offer insights on how to achieve this:

Initiatives by the Indian Government to End Classroom Violence

  • Research shows that Comprehensive Sexual Education (CSE) and social and emotional learning enhance academic performance and employability while reducing anxiety, depression, bullying, and harassment.
  • UNESCO commends the Delhi government for its directive to ensure the strict prohibition of bullying within school premises, with no such acts going unnoticed or unpunished.
  • UNESCO is proud to collaborate with the NCERT, ministries of HRD and health & family welfare, UN agencies, academia, and civil society to promote the health and well-being of school-going adolescents, including the prevention of school violence and bullying.
  • Aligned with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, UNESCO remains committed to working with the government and stakeholders to provide safe, non-violent, inclusive, and effective learning environments for all.

Initiatives for Schools to End Violence in the Classroom

  • Implementing a school-wide survey: This survey allows teachers and students to report any personal experiences of violence, encompassing all types of violence, along with their views on school policies, the environment, and student attitudes towards violence. While the complete survey may be too lengthy for regular use, schools can select relevant statements for a comprehensive school-wide survey.
  • Offering initiatives like Do the Write Thing: This program brings students and teachers together to engage in discussions, share experiences, and take action towards positive change. “Do the Write Thing” facilitates interaction, writing activities, and collaborative efforts to address violence in schools.

Also read: How to minimize gender and other biases in school?

How Schools Can Empower Staff to End Classroom Violence

Schools can empower their staff and teachers by:

  • Reporting any threats, indications of weapons, signs of gang participation, or other circumstances that can incite or encourage violence to the principal or person in charge.
  • Establishing classroom behaviour rules and refusing to tolerate violence. Involving students in setting up penalties and enforcing the rules and regulations.
  • Inviting parents to discuss their concerns and their children’s development. Sending letters home to acknowledge students’ achievements.
  • Learning how to identify signs that a student may become violent and knowing how to use school resources to seek appropriate help.
  • Encouraging and supporting student-led anti-violence initiatives, such as mentorship programs, training sessions, teen courts, and peer education.
  • Serving on a team or committee to create and implement a safe school plan that outlines emergency response procedures.
  • Participating in violence prevention workshops and talks by speakers from the juvenile justice system, law enforcement, and regional mental health organizations.
  • Enforcing the school’s established rules to reduce the likelihood of violence and taking responsibility for both the classroom and surrounding areas.
  • Encouraging students not to taunt or name-calling, promoting treating others with the same courtesy they expect, and involving them in developing moral guidelines.
  • Educating with enthusiasm, providing challenging, informative, and rewarding activities that engage students and minimize troublesome behaviour.
  • Learning and teaching conflict resolution and anger management skills, helping students apply them in their daily lives.
  • Incorporating concepts of violence and its prevention into teaching materials.
  • Encouraging students to report any suspicious or criminal activity.

How Schools Can Empower Students to End Classroom Violence

Students often have the best understanding of school violence and valuable ideas for preventing it. Schools can empower students by:

  • Encouraging students to put their ideas into practice and collaborate with parents and teachers to develop solutions for preventing and ending violence in classrooms.
  • Establishing a student council that includes diverse student representation, encouraging students to recognize their individual responsibilities in creating a safe learning environment.
  • Coordinating student courts that provide real judgments and consequences, serves as a privilege.
  • Creating a system of student mediators who have received training in conflict resolution to mediate conflicts between classmates and serve as role models.
  • Inviting external student safety groups from other schools to promote safe activities.
  • Establishing a buddy system for newcomers, pairing them with existing students to help them adjust to their new school environment and feel more comfortable.
  • Implementing a tip line for students to report school-related crimes anonymously and safely.
  • Engaging in community work to improve the local area, such as cleaning up, planting flowers and trees, and removing trash.

The education sector must work together to end violence in schools and continuously monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of their efforts. A supportive policy framework should make it unequivocally clear that school violence is unacceptable. By implementing educational policies and programs, all students and staff should have the opportunity to experience a positive and safe school environment. India can take the lead in collecting actionable data to inform a strategic national response to school violence and bullying, becoming a global leader in this effort.

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