The Home Office estimates that youth violence committed by or against young people accounts for 60 per cent of all violence committed in England and Wales. Added to that, Accident and Emergency statistics show that admissions due to assault are rising, with the most common from the 15-24 age group.
These figures indicate that we are still struggling to overcome the problems behind the violence and to allow young people to grow up without fear of assault from their peers. The answer may well lie in education. Effective learning Although it is argued that negative attitudes influencing behaviour in children need to be changed by the age of eight, young people remain impressionable and this does not mean that the attitudes of those in their teens cannot be positively influenced.
One of the difficulties in educating pupils about violence and conflict is that not all teachers are confident they can effectively deliver these subjects in the classroom.
Currently, no formal PSHE training is provided on the subject of youth violence and additional concerns over the emotional reaction of students can be daunting for teachers. According to research carried out by GLEAN (2010), the majority of teachers said they were least confident teaching subjects based around topics of conflict resolution.
Taking a stand A new specialist charity, Stand Against Violence, offers teachers and schools a solution to these issues. Following the violent murder of Lloyd Fouracre in 2005, the charity was formed to promote classroom education as a means of reducing and preventing youth violence.
Stand Against Violence uses the example of what happened to Lloyd to demonstrate to young people the potential consequences of violence and the impact of individuals’ actions on those around them. A film dealing with the impact of Lloyd’s death on his family, friends, classmates and the wider community is the basis of the charity’s free online resources for teachers.
Stand Against Violence provides lesson plans that have been specifically designed by teachers to accompany the film. Covering themes such as anti-social behaviour, crime, violence and alcohol awareness, the film aims to provide powerful messages that leave a lasting impression on young people.
Record of achievement Stand Against Violence has already had tremendous success on a national scale and its classroom materials and workshops are being used by schools, police and youth offending teams, among others. Impact reports show that users of these resources are noticing a positive effect on their young learners.
One report from a behavioural support worker in Gloucestershire said that the film had been used, “very successfully in 1:1 sessions with the kids…one boy in particular has stopped his daily fighting as a direct result of seeing the film”.
Teachers and PSHE tutors have also noted the impact on their students. “Occasionally in teaching, you come across a resource that you know will have a dramatic impact on the students in the classroom. The challenging subject matter in the Stand Against Violence resource provoked some incredible and emotive discussions from all of the young people. One young learner said: ‘This has made an impact on my life that will stay with me for life’," said Jo Elliot, head of PSHE, The Kings School, Devon.
However, the most encouraging feedback comes from the young people themselves: ”Stand Against Violence has made me think not just about the tragedy for the Fouracre family, but also about the kind of person I am, and the kind of choices I make, and the impact those choices have on my peers and on wider society,” said a Year 10 pupil.
A unique approach While youth violence continues to be a major issue for teachers, parents, police and healthcare services, there are few free educational resources available to schools. Stand Against Violence is one charity that is dedicated to providing education professionals with the specialist resources that can make a difference.
By using a film to tell a real life story and showing the harsh consequences of the violent attack that claimed Lloyd’s life, Stand Against Violence has proven that classroom education can be effective at changing the attitudes and actions of young people.
See how the young people you work with could benefit. Watch the film and find out more about the charity’s classroom materials and the website.
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