Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe
Print version ISSN 0041-4751
MERWE, Petro Van Der. A school-based socio-emotional programme as strategy against crime and violence. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2011, vol.51, n.3, pp. 388-402. ISSN 0041-4751.
The point of departure of this article is that crime and violence is a serious problem in South African schools. School violence can be understood as any behaviour that violates a school's educational mission or climate of respect, or jeopardises the intent of the school to be free of aggression against persons or property, drugs, weapons, disruptions and disorder. There is talk of a "violence continuum" that stretches from insults, criticising, hate speech, threats, bullying and shoving around, to more violent behaviour. As one type of behaviour leads to another, it increases the level of violence offighting, sexual harassment, theft, the use of alcohol and drugs, the use of weapons, vandalism, hate, gang-related involvement, the detention of hostages and rape, to murder and suicide. Attempts to prevent school violence should address average behavioural problems. To prevent a shooting incident at school the insulting and belittling behaviour of children towards each other on the playground must be addressed at the outset. Conflict amongst learners evokes aggression, opposition and violent behaviour. This type of behaviour is not conducive to the learning environment and is associated with ensuing behavioural problems, substance abuse and poor scholastic achievement. In short, it means that all school violence intervention efforts must concentrate on a broader definition and fundamental understanding of what school violence entails. It follows that a different approach is required - for this reason, the change from a controland-punishment approach to an approach of positive behavioural support which will promote an emotional supportive environment in the classroom is propagated The role of the teacher is not limited to the provision of intellectual support to the learners. Tuition offers the opportunity to develop more verbal skills, which will enable the learners to express their emotions and resolve conflict by means of negotiation, for example verbally instead of violently. While aggressive and violent (antisocial) behaviour can be associated with problems at school, pro-social behaviour (for example empathy and socially responsible behaviour) can be linked to achievement at school, peer acceptance and a peaceful school environment. A school-based socio-emotional intervention programme used as a strategy against violence is rooted in the fact that education can change awareness, that knowledge and teaching methods can promote pro-social behaviour, and that it can empower learners. The primary qualitative study on which this article is based therefore endeavoured to determine which elements a socioemotional intervention programme ought to include to prevent violence and crime in schools. The point of departure is that teaching emotional intelligence (EI) in the classroom can be of great value as an intervention against violence in schools. This study further aimed to determine whether emotional skills can be mastered in the complex atmosphere of a school. Management of the classroom climate is difficult as teachers should be sensitive to the behaviour of learners and understand them as individuals, and therefore adapt their own behaviour accordingly. A teacher's behavioural sensitivity can make a marked difference in the lives of learners. A secondary research question was to ascertain what role teachers can play in the development of EI in learners. As teachers are important role models to learners it is important for them to display EI to the learners by way of their example. The behaviour of teachers that reflects EI promotes emotional skills, generates a positive attitude and motivates the learners. Democratic school management practices and EI in the classroom can have the impact that especially an external locus of control in learners (as a result of certain events in their lives) change to an inner locus of control. Apart from cognitive and emotional maturity adolescents must also reach social maturity. An adolescent-centred teaching approach will develop adolescents'ability to acquire a socially acceptable philosophy of life. Adolescent-centred practices confirm that various personal (emotional), intellectual (cognitive) and social variables interact in the classroom situation and influence adolescents' learning processes. Adolescents' learning is promoted when individuals admit differences, are respected and accommodated; when the learners are motivated by challenge, relevance, choice and a feeling of achieving success, and when they feel comfortable to express themselves, to be creative, explorative and experimental, to take risks, and to make mistakes, which are all components of EI.
Keywords : Misbehaviour; learners; teachers; classroom; classroom practices; school violence; emotional intelligence; emotional skills; socio-emotional interventions; social behaviour; interpersonal skills.