UN representative calls for all-society approach in combating school violence

Concern
about the spate of school violence has been raised by United Nations Special Representative Dr Najat Maalla M’jid who called for more early detection of warning signs and investment in the well-being of children.

M’jid, who is the special representative of the secretary general for violence against children, expressed her view during an exclusive interview with the Jamaica Observer on Tuesday.

She pointed out that there is an increasing form of violence worldwide which we have to deal with in schools, outside of schools, online and offline.

“It’s a pity that we arrived at this level. How do we empower our children, teachers, parents, to early detect the signs because we need to be acting proactively… do we need to prosecute all these children in peer-to-peer violence? We are creating an inter-generational cycle of violence so if we are not tackling that and sitting with them, and really working with children, there is a problem,” she said.

“We have to be very careful because there is this societal acceptance to violence and it becomes the only way to interact. There are even a number of adolescents out of school, out of training, where are they? Children are experts of what is going well and what is going bad, so we need to find out that,” she added.

At the same time, M’jid said there needs to be a society approach to invest in the mental well-being and education of children.

“When you are investing in child and gender sensitive violence prevention and protection, you have a high return on investments. It makes economic sense and you will save lives and you will also make an impact on children learning and their emotional development, so they will be strong human capital,” she said.

“We need to stop seeing children as problem to resolve but as strong capital we need to invest on. We also need to stop seeing children only as the future, but as the present also,” she added.

The latest case of school violence took place at Oberlin High School in Lawrence Tavern, St Andrew, where a student slapped another.

In September, a student was stabbed to death by another schoolmate at Kingston Technical High School.

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