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COMMENTARY: School Violence Spill over Increasing Incidents Placing More Burden on Guidance /counsellors


Dennis A Minott, PhD 29 minutes agoPend

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In response to reporter Tamoy Ashman's fine article in the Sunday Observer addressing the troubling rise in school violence and the challenges faced by guidance counselors, it's evident that our educational system is grappling with multifaceted issues that demand urgent attention and innovative solutions. Ashman's insights shed light on the overwhelming workload placed on guidance counselors, who are tasked not only with providing crucial emotional support to students but also with fulfilling administrative duties and even substituting for teachers.


The stark reality painted by Ashman underscores the urgent need for a systemic overhaul in how we approach student well-being and behavioral intervention within our schools. It's clear that relying solely on reactive measures, such as increased law enforcement presence or disciplinary actions, is insufficient. Instead, we must adopt a proactive approach that prioritizes the cultivation of empathy, emotional intelligence, and conflict resolution skills among students.


In my current Sunday column for the Gleaner, I proposed the implementation of Mandatory Compassion & Emotional Learning (mCEL) education across all schools as a transformative solution. This approach, rooted in Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) principles, aims to equip students with the necessary tools to navigate interpersonal relationships, manage their emotions, and resolve conflicts peacefully.


Furthermore, my column highlighted successful SEL initiatives implemented in countries like Bhutan, Finland, and Singapore, where the integration of SEL into the national curriculum has yielded positive outcomes in terms of improved academic performance, reduced violence, and enhanced social-emotional well-being among students.


Ashman's observations regarding the overwhelming workload faced by guidance counselors further underscore the necessity of investing in comprehensive teacher training and increasing the ratio of counselors to students. By providing educators with the resources and support they need, we can ensure that students receive the personalized guidance and support necessary to thrive academically and emotionally.


Ultimately, addressing the root causes of school violence requires a collaborative effort involving educators, parents, policymakers, and the broader community. It's imperative that we recognize the interconnectedness of societal factors, such as family dynamics, media influences, and socio-economic disparities, in shaping student behavior.


As we navigate these complex challenges, let us remain committed to fostering a culture of kindness, empathy, and inclusivity within our schools. By investing in the social and emotional well-being of our youth, we can pave the way for a brighter and more compassionate future for Jamaica.

Let's join forces to create a safer, more nurturing environment where every student feels valued, supported, and empowered to reach their full potential.


Together, we can build a generation of resilient, empathetic individuals who contribute positively to our society.


by Dennis A. Minott, PhD.

May 12, 2024

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