|WHO Information Series on School Health - Document 3 - Violence Prevention: An Important Element of a Health-promoting School (UNESCO - WHO, 1999, 61 p.)|
Violence prevention efforts that address factors at all levels will be the most successful. Schools certainly cannot control many factors that contribute to violence military spending, arms sales, corrupt members of governments and police forces. However, the education sector can assist the network of institutions working to identify and stop the cycle of violence. Schools can address a broad range of behaviours, skills, communication patterns, attitudes and school policies and conditions that support and perpetuate violence. For example, educational programmes can challenge the cultural norms that support violent behaviour against women or ethnic/religious minorities, and teach alternative attitudes and skills which enhance the "non-violent solution of conflicts, respect for human rights, democracy, intercultural understanding, tolerance and solidarity."(8,9) They can also prevent violence from occurring on school grounds, thus providing a safe place in which students and staff can work and learn.
Specifically, this document suggests ways that schools can:
· Create public policy that promotes health. This document provides information and rationale that can be used to persuade others of the importance of violence prevention and to advocate for increased local, district and national support for violence prevention and health promotion through schools.
· Develop skills. This document identifies the skills that young people need to learn and practise in order to resolve conflict through peaceful, non-violent and socially constructive means, preferably before they face high-risk situations and before many drop out of school.
· Reorient health services. This document describes how schools can enhance access to screening, diagnostic, treatment and counselling services either within the school or through referrals to community services for those suffering physical or psychological trauma from violence.
· Develop supportive environments. This document describes simple, low-cost changes that schools can make to improve their physical and psychosocial environments and create an atmosphere that supports violence prevention.
· Mobilise community action. Recognising the interdependence of school and community, this document identifies ways the school can interact with community members, parents and local services to reinforce violence prevention initiatives, and to support and guide young people in all realms of their lives.
In implementing these suggestions, schools take essential steps toward becoming a Health-Promoting School.