Thursday, May 22, 2008

Social Skill Education to Prevent Violence

I was reading about “Dealing with the School Bully Epidemic” the other day and a followed a link to a program that has been developed to teach “Social Smarts”.

From “Dealing with the School Bully Epidemic”:
Today's children are just not coming into school -- into life -- equipped with adequate social skills and character development that helps them understand that this kind of behavior is simply not OK. They are not taught to respect and value differences among people, in opinions, in actions…
People may argue that social skills education belongs in the home, not in the schools, and I'd be the first to agree. But, our schools have become a war zone, where teachers spend more time disciplining students and trying to keep order than they do teaching! Is it any wonder our schools under-perform? If you were losing 20/30/50% of your average educational time because of behavior issues, how effective do you think you could be?

The “Social Smarts” program emphasizes:
… thinking "beyond oneself"
… kindness and consideration in all dealings with others
… behavior must not only be taught, but also must be practiced and reinforced by example in the family, in schools, and in the child's everyday world.
Rather than dismiss manners and etiquette as old-fashioned, fussy, and irrelevant… we need to return to a more civilized period of behavior, where people are responsible and accountable for their words and actions.

Although the world can be a rough place in which to live, and we cannot always change what others say and do, we can change how we act and speak, and hope that by "keeping our own houses clean" we can serve as positive examples in our homes, our communities, and in the world at large.

Those social skills are key, I believe. Couldn’t we all use a refresher in proper social skills and frequent reminders of proper manners and proper action? Teaching these skills and principles in our schools and working with parents to help them reinforce the lessons and working with society (including the media in all its forms) to highlight good examples that will likewise reinforce manners and “good” behavior can help reclaim our future and our future generations. It can improve our society, decrease violence and all its terrible consequences (yes, including death). [Although I do believe we need a non-proprietary, inexpensive program that is easy to disseminate to all, because all are in need.]

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