Children need to ‘Get Real About Violence

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 20, 2001

President George W. Bush was late boarding Air Force One for his departure to Europe earlier this week because he was busy shaking hands with a group of European youngsters in America to participate in conflict resolution workshops.

The workshop’s goal, according to newscasters, is to teach youngsters from long warring ethnic backgrounds how to live together, and how to live peaceably with each other.

Concordia Parish, La., is halfway around the world from those countries and thousands of miles from Washington, D.C. But the lessons of conflict resolution are just as real to the parish students as they are to those Bosnian and Albanian youngsters who stood outside the White House this week.

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Those lessons are so real that administrators in Concordia Parish are instituting a &uot;Get Real About Violence&uot; program for all public school students. New this year, the program will teach conflict resolution and anger management skills to students in grades kindergarten through high school. Its goal is to teach youngsters how to prevent violence, before it starts.

And we think it’s a timely lesson, and not just for Concordia Parish students. In a society when our threshold for violence is ever changing, we must add &uot;managing anger&uot; and &uot;resolving conflict&uot; to our children’s repertoire of skills, if only to offset the desensitization that comes from popular culture. We must teach our children that it is not OK to lash out in anger; to scream and yell; to hit, kick, punch or worse. We must teach them to be responsible and accountable for their actions and their anger. And we must practice what we teach.

It’s a lesson we’re learning that applies equally well in Southwest Mississippi as Central Europe.