|WHO Information Series on School Health - Document 3 - Violence Prevention: An Important Element of a Health-promoting School (UNESCO - WHO, 1999, 61 p.)|
Life Skills Education seeks to teach a range of social competencies that adolescents need to successfully accomplish many of the developmental challenges they may face. These skills include: communication skills; decision-making; problem solving; critical thinking; assertiveness; pressure resistance; self-assessment; coping with emotions; stress management; social adjustment; and self-awareness. Key components of Life Skills Education include;
1. Facilitating the learning of life skills for psychosocial competence
2. Practising life skills in relation to everyday life and the key prevention issues to which they are relevant
3. Facilitating the acquisition of skills using interactive, student-centred methods, such as role play and guided practise
4. Encouraging parental involvement and reinforcement of the skills learned
5. Offering opportunities for application of life skills in community projects
Conflict Resolution seeks to help young people understand conflict and develop a range of skills including critical thinking, communication, empathy, anger management, problem solving, impulse control and withstanding peer pressure. Role playing of conflict situations and analysis of responses to conflict are usually components. Conflict resolution curricula help students to define problems and generate solutions, anticipate consequences of behaviour choices, learn self-control and form and retain friendships. They are most often taught in social studies and health, usually through one teaching unit that lasts two to four weeks.
Mediation Interventions involve the participation of a third party (a trained student or teacher) who assists the people in the disagreement to resolve their conflicts. In addition to many of the areas of training in conflict resolution, mediators are taught to be good listeners and skilled in calming the disputants and assisting them in reaching win-win solutions. Mediators can empower students to help one another resolve their conflicts without adult involvement, and provide student mediators with the skills to resolve their own conflicts more effectively. Generally, student mediators work in pairs to mediate conflicts after completing a 15-20 hour training that includes both students and teacher-advisors. The conflicts they mediate involve such issues as bullying and fighting. Student mediators are sometimes selected by the students; in other cases, they volunteer or are chosen by the school staff. Peer mediation can be used in conjunction with conflict resolution programmes.
Crime Prevention and Law-Related Education offers students ways to reduce their chances of becoming victims of crime by increasing their knowledge of the types of crime committed in the school and community and developing appropriate safety measures. It encourages them to take action to prevent crime in general in their community and also increases their awareness of the legal system, the justice system and the juvenile justice system in particular.
Communication Skill Education teaches students to express thoughts and feelings in clear, acceptable, non-threatening and creative ways. It includes basic communication skills (i.e., speaking clearly, active listening, responding when spoken to, expressing feelings), anger management skills, conflict management and resolution skills, inclusion skills and empathy for others.
Decision-making Skills help students to cope with challenges such as dealing with peer pressure, refusal skills, problem-solving skills, critical thinking, making friends, healing after loss or rejection, crisis/stress management, handling emotions, rejecting stereotypes, developing positive attitudes, setting and achieving goals.
Aggression Reduction/Anger Management Education conveys the message that anger is a normal human emotion. It explores healthy and unhealthy ways to express anger and may focus on violence as a consequence. Skills that teach ways that anger can be channelled appropriately and violence avoided can also be included in these curricula.
Peace Education takes a very broad approach, looking at violence prevention not only in an interpersonal context but at many different levels, from the individual to social groups, and within and among societies as a whole. They may be explicitly pacifist in approach and explore issues of fundamental justice in many different settings. In the context of peace education, skills are taught that are similar to those taught in Life Skills Education; including assertiveness, communication skills, critical thinking, and problem solving. A list of peace education programmes can be obtained from the WHO, Division of Mental Health.
Prejudice Reduction/Cultural Awareness curricula attempt to overcome the stereotypes and prejudices that can foster violence. They use a variety of approaches from exploring historical events to looking at the strengths and contributions of different ethnic and social groups.
Adapted from EDC (1995) Taking Action to Prevent Adolescent Violence: Educational Resources for Schools and Community Organizations (an annotated bibliography of over 90 curricula and descriptions of over 200 videos). (52)