Our Readers' Opinions
June 10, 2022
Conflict resolution and crisis management

MUCH OF THE deadly knife, cutlass and gun play today can be avoided, if from a young age, girls and boys are taught about CR&CM. I want to share a personal experience so that if that concept is followed, society in general will be a much better environment where conflict is a thing of the past, crime at an all time low, just because children from a very young age are able to settle disputes among themselves amicably.This may sound utopian ( far fetched or ideal), but it must be done, or we may end up dystopian ( a state of injustice and great suffering).

My training as a teacher and journalist took me to several countries; Venezuela where I studied television production and directing; Jamaica in broadcast journalism; Belize and Taiwan and on every occasion, the first group activity was centered around conflict resolution and crisis management (CR&CM). At Teachers College that was also one of the first activities during our ‘orientation’. CR&CM also teaches about ‘compromise’ relating to certain habits, views and actions, but not ethics/ values, so RIGHT is always RIGHT, andWRONG is always WRONG when it comes to ethical and moral issues. And even if a person is wrong, you can forgive them, because we all make mistakes at times.

Whenever you come in a new setting, like moving from primary school to secondary school, or from college to university, you meet with persons from different schools, ethnic and cultural/ religious backgrounds, and egos, which are all ripe elements for conflict. It is therefore the role of those institutions ‘very early in the game’, to diffuse any possible conflict, by role playing a possible conflict scenario, created by the new students. Collectively, they all need to solve the conflict through non violent methods. It is invariably the very first activity before instruction begins. It does several things; students get to know each other, teachers get a chance to identify students with leadership potential among other qualities and the activity allows the students to identify and solve crisis situations quickly without, or with minimum conflict.Trust me, it works.

It is an activity that MUST precede any formal

instruction in EVERY class, from kindergarten to university, and must be conducted at the beginning of every TERM, with the scenario changing every term. The activity does not last long, but has a long lasting effect. Long after these children leave school and become responsible adults they will be able to creatively apply the problem solving skills learned at school, as well as learning to be ‘peacemakers’. One word of caution to peacemakers, be wise and careful, as by coming between violent persons, you can end up as the victim. Still, be a peacemaker.

So if we want to see a reduction in the number of violent crimes, most of which are preventable, proper psycho-social training (how to think and act right) must be provided to enable individuals to manage potential crises peaceably, and it all begins from childhood, continues through puberty and into adolescence.The home environment is also a major contributor to a child’s upbringing and in many instances, what happens at home is replicated or acted out in school, at play or work.The ‘peacemaker’ role during these CR&CM sessions is invaluable in dissolving potential hazards, after all the Good Book states among other things in Matthew 5:9 … “Blessed are the Peacemakers: for they shall be called the Children of God” … isn’t it good to be blessed ?

Donald De Riggs