Thursday, June 01, 2006

Violence Prevention

I finally did my state-required two-hour violence prevention workshop, yesterday. Before you ask, no, I don't know how it took me this long to get around to it. It was... interesting.

I had somehow acquired the misconception that this was going to be a workshop about preventing violence between students. Turns out, it was about preventing students from being violent towards me!

I've never felt personally threatened by a student, possibly because I independently figured out many of the "Seventeen Principles" of violence prevention, such as staying alert, being aware of environments and days that might trigger violence, keeping lines of communication open, providing physical and psychological space, and so on. Learning to provide a "violence-prone" student the psychological space to back out of a situation while saving face: that's a hard one, but so important.

Our instructor was hilarious, both intentionally and unintentionally. He's a former PE teacher and current college athletic director. Tall and lean, there was something about the cut and color of his suit - like this one, only silver-gray - that perfectly matched his classic old school New York accent. He taught through stories, providing two or three real-life examples for each of the seventeen principles, usually examples of what happened when people didn't follow the principles. Some of the stories were kind of scary - teachers leaving building doors open or guards stepping away from their desks and outsiders entering the building and attempting to rape or stab people inside. Some were funny - he imitated us entering the room, choosing our seats in an almost-mathematical attempt to maximize the space around us.

Be aware of cultural differences, he said, and proceeded to explain that in some Oriental cultures, parents teach their children not to look adults in the eye.

Never a dull moment.

I still wish I'd learned how to do more to prevent violence among children. Now that would be a useful workshop!


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