Conflict Resolution In School

November 24, 2021

In view of the disturbances that have been going on in schools, there is need for the students to be guided on conflict resolution. As much as there are many students who are keen on doing the wrong thing, there are many who follow the school rules and are careful not to be caught in the wrong. The latter group also maintain the school property and perform well academically. These students are the first to report when they see or hear of things going wrong. There is usually a code of secrecy in most schools; the students who snitch on others face intimidation and bullying. For a student to be able to stand up and refuse to do wrong when so many others are involved, takes a lot of courage.

As we speak on conflict resolution at the schools this week, we are hoping to counsel and instruct the students on ways to handle problems. Conflict resolution education attempts to instill problem-solving skills among the children in dispute.  The inability to resolve conflict without resorting to violence is symptomatic of a youth’s inability to handle confrontation. Teaching youth how to resolve conflict in a peaceful way can help reduce incidents of violence and criminal mischief. Though there are many causes of conflict at school, the conflicts we are seeing are most often between the students themselves, and not students with a grudge against school management. Now that the government has officially given orders that students caught causing damage to their schools and lighting fires, will to be held liable, there is a lot of fear for those implicated. Each time something negative happens at school, there is always a student or students who are aware of the happenings, beforehand. They may choose to keep quiet on the issue or report it if they sense it will get some of them in trouble.

When the fires first started at the schools, the police were called in and students told to write down the names of those they suspected as being the culprits. The students that were implicated immediately began to accuse their classmates for calling them out, and the fights began. When such animosity sets in at school, there is a lot of heated tension. Fights are likely to occur. Many children act out their emotions in the form of teasing, gossip, and physical aggression. If left unchecked, these same behavioral patterns will transfer over into the young adult years, where stiffer competition exists among peer groups. We listen to the students and allow them to air out their views without interrupting them. Those that are guilty as well as the innocent need to be heard. There are those who will talk of being intimidated by their peers into doing the wrong thing. We try to teach them to seek solutions on how to manage peer pressure rather than to act out destructively. We encourage the brave girls who have stood up to caution their peers about doing the wrong things.

One girl told the group we were mentoring that she was chased away from her former school because she was caught in the company of a group of girls smoking cigarettes. Though not a smoker herself, she feared saying no because she wanted to fit in with the group. Though she knew if caught, the consequences would be dire, she smoked to please her friends. When they were finally caught, one of the girls accused her of bringing the cigarettes to school. Though that was not true, it was her word against her friends, and she ended up being expelled from the school. Though she regretted her actions and cried begging the school administration to forgive her, she was not given the chance and had to face her angry parents who punished her severely. Since then she was admitted into her current school and states she has learned her lessons, and that no amount of peer pressure will cause her to misbehave again.

We are proposing the idea of peer mediation groups in the schools. These will consist of students who are mature enough to mediate between students who are having conflict without taking sides. The main objection is to bring peace between the feuding students and ensure that any issues getting out of hand are reported to the school administration.  As part of a whole school approach to student welfare, schools may well consider introducing peer mediation. Often student/student disputes can be resolved best by student mediators. Students can be trained in the skills of mediation to act as mediators for their peers. Not all conflicts, however, may be suitable for peer mediation. Other processes may be more appropriate in situations involving assault, theft, alcohol or drug use. Peer mediation programs would need to be coordinated by staff trained in mediation who provide ongoing support to student mediators.

Resolving conflict at school results in happy students
and a cheerful school atmosphere.

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