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Managing Anger and Resolving Conflicts in Schools.

The Organization of American States (OAS), through its Special Multilateral Fund of the Inter-American Council for Integral Development (FEMCIDI), funded a project in the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis entitled, "Anger Management and Conflict Resolution Programme for Schools." The project specifically targeted youth in public and private schools who exhibited antisocial behaviors and who were also involved in episodes of violence on school premises.

According to the Ministry of Education, the increasing incidence of violence among youth in schools has become a major concern for educators and policy makers. The Ministry noted that, in many ways, this was linked to the increasing prevalence of the gang culture in St. Kitts and Nevis. Officials revealed that involvement in violent activity and other deviant behaviors in school led to increased numbers of suspensions and expulsions.

The project sought to improve educational outcomes for the less advantaged and most vulnerable groups of students (at-risk youth) who engaged in risky behavior (school violence). The beneficiaries included students, teachers, guidance counselors, parents and guardians, and the general public.

Some of the objectives of the program were:

* to assist participants in understanding how anger was seen in their culture;

* to teach participants that anger could be a positive or a negative phenomenon;

* to help participants understand the origins of anger, namely, hurt: denial, put down, shut down, and let down; and

* to help participants understand themselves and, in particular, their feelings.


The program was designed to help teachers and guidance counselors:

* understand how emotional literacy could inhibit violent behavior;

* help staff members build more positive relationships with students and parents/guardians; and

* detect signs of potential violent behavior in children.

The project won approval from the technical committee (CENPES) of the OAS because it reflects the signs of the times throughout the Hemisphere, where crime, violence, and conflicts in society have taken center stage and have affected everyone. In the face of this harsh reality, urgent steps must be taken to protect and defend those who are most vulnerable, especially the youth. When violence is brought to the entrance of the school gates, it should command concerted and collective action by all to stamp it out with an effectiveness that is reflective of our deep distain for this awful scourge. When crime is committed on or close to school premises, a nation must respond meaningfully to safeguard children (the youth) and to give them the opportunity to grow up in a world without fear, in neighborhoods and playfields where the right to reach their fullest academic, physical, and social potential is not threatened or inhibited.

In St. Kitts and Nevis, instruction and counseling are taking place in the schools against the backdrop of crime and violence, problems that could have their origins in factors such as: a diminishing emphasis on spiritual and moral values; poverty; social exclusion; the emergence of criminal gangs; child abuse and neglect; dysfunctional homes; divorce; a breakdown of law and order; and other socio-economic factors.

The Anger Management and Conflict Resolution Programme for Schools in St. Kitts and Nevis will prove exceedingly valuable in helping youth to control their anger and to resolve conflicts peacefully and amicably. The project offers all of us an opportunity to help build a better world for this generation. We can do so by working to ensure that we create an environment in the home, in our neighborhoods, and in our schools that promotes self control, fosters tolerance, supports the building of good relationships, encourages togetherness, emphasizes unity, develops self confidence, minimizes conflict, resists negativism, and accentuates the positive. Progress along these lines will help maintain peace and order in the classroom and beyond.

As the Representative of the OAS Secretary General in the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, I feel a great sense of pride that the organization has become intimately involved with the government of this twin-island nation to help address the crime phenomenon with a concentration on helping youth in schools across the country to deal with anger management and conflict resolution issues. The involvement of the OAS in this project not only highlights the organization's comparative advantage in terms of the technical assistance it offers, but also demonstrates the extent to which the OAS reaches directly into the lives of youth across the landscape of the Americas with the overriding purpose of preparing them to be the future leaders of the hemisphere.

Starret D. Greene is the OAS Representative in St. Kitts and Nevis.
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Title Annotation:Youth in the Americas
Author:Greene, Starret D.
Publication:Americas (English Edition)
Article Type:Essay
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2011
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