Conflict resolution programme aims to reduce violence in schools

J Wray & Nephew Foundation (JWNF) joined forces with the United States Embassy in Kingston and the LASCO Chin Foundation recently, to deliver a conflict resolution workshop series in schools across Jamaica.

Principals, guidance counsellors, deans of discipline and health and family life education (HFLE) teachers from all schools were gathered for a psychological refresher training with renowned psychologist Dr Kai Morgan.

The programme, which started in December 2022, runs for a period of six months and will deliver a series of activities that will engage children in grades four through grade nine and their parents in 17 schools across Kingston, Clarendon, and St Elizabeth.

The programme aims to minimise school violence by teaching conflict resolution education through psycho-social interventions and empowering students, teachers, and parents to manage conflicts in communities and schools.

Robert “Bobby” Adelson Jr — public affairs officer at the United States Embassy — in representing the main programme sponsor, emphasised the need for such a partnership to increase awareness of the impact of school violence and how more exposure can be generated in an effort to eradicate the problem.

“It takes a village, and parents, teachers, and support staff can only do so much; therefore, partnerships are essential to addressing this issue. It is in our best interest to help support and establish a healthy learning and interaction environment. All engaged parties are here to provide assistance and resources to promote dispute resolution, with the ultimate objective of reducing school violence,” Adelson Jr said.

CEO of the JWN Foundation Tanikie McClarthy Allen shared the reasoning behind JWNF developing such an intervention, “The issue of violence among students increased following the COVID-19 pandemic, especially after face-to-face classes resumed. Through our work in the communities that we operate, we recognised the need to mitigate and eventually eliminate the detrimental effects of mental health issues that are neglected.”

Programme manager for the LASCO Chin Foundation Paul Irving underscored that the guidance counsellors, for whom the refresher course was designed, have the crucial responsibility of shaping Jamaica’s future.

“You are at the forefront of Jamaica’s future, which inspired us to consider the significance of the change we must make as educators and leaders of the next generation. This programme is essential if we are to develop students’ self-awareness, and with your assistance, our teachers, and — equally important — the parents, we can make it a reality. As a result of learning the significance of combating school violence, the LASCO Chin Foundation joined up with the JWN Foundation and the US Embassy in Kingston to promote optimism and encourage uplifting activities in our schools,” Irving said.

The programme will deliver two 60-to-90-minute workshops per school with up to 15 participants and their parent(s), equipping them with the necessary knowledge and skills to prevent dangerous and violent situations from occurring in their schools and communities, and ultimately providing them with a better and safer living and learning environment. In addition, the children will have access to therapy interventions for anger management and the reduction of disruptive behaviours.

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