Violence Among Children
Parents’ greatest concern in recent years has been about violence and their children. We are seeing assassinations, riots and mob action all over the world. Witnessing these events on television has emphasised vividly the existence of violent impulses among people in modern times. None of us want children to grow up to become violent persons. How do we prevent this?
What is violence? To me violence is really the emotions of anger or hostility in an intense and destructive form. I would express it as ‘anger expressed in an intense form, with the intent to physically hurt or destroy a person’. Also, a distinction is desired to be made between violent actions and violent feelings for the two are not the same. We, be it parents or teachers, want the children to be able to specifically control violent actions during childhood and later when they grow up.
Two children are playing together at infant school. One child wants to play with a truck. The other child refuses to give it to him. The first child picks up a wooden block and angrily hits the other on the head. This is a violent action; we do not want our children to act this way.
Violent feelings on the other hand are different. Like feelings of joy or happiness, depression, sadness, feeling of love, anger or hostility. All feelings come into our mind unbidden. In this respect violent feelings are no different from any other type of feelings. They are not subject to conscious control.
The children feel violent also and it is normal for them to do so. When a child is having a temper tantrum – yelling and screaming out his anger, there is no doubt he is feeling violent at that moment.
It is most important that we make this distinction between violent actions and violent feelings. Once we do, we can see clearly that we cannot prevent either ourselves or the children from having violent feelings. These are normal. Violent feelings are merely anger which is felt deeply and intensely. While we cannot control our feelings or those of the children, we can learn to control our actions.
We do not merely want to overcome the negative aspect of violent actions in children, we also want them to imbibe positive values of love, compassion, cooperation, sincere interest in the welfare of people and sensitivity towards the suffering of others. We want them to learn to use reason and negotiation as methods of resolving conflict between people.
How do we do this? How do we prevent our children from resorting to violent actions to resolve their conflicts with other people. Human beings are not innately violent. They learn violence. Of course, the people who teach them to be violent may or may not be aware that they are doing so. The sad part is that violent children and violent adults are mainly taught to be that way by people around them, most of the time immediate family and peers. Of course, no one deliberately or consciously sets out to teach children to be violent. It generally happens when children are exposed to or they witness violent behaviour or actions around them. It becomes imperative to ensure and avoid as much as possible exposure of children to such situations.
Nevertheless it happens. Dear Parents and teachers do not be violent or aggressive yourself. Children see, Children do. The common saying goes – ‘A violent chip off the old block.’
Dr Shayama Chona, is the former Principal of Delhi Public School, R K Puram, New Delhi; Founder President of Tamana (NGO for physically & mentally handicapped children); Founder of Anubhav Shiksha Kendra (a school for the under-privileged); she has been a member of 96 Advisory Boards and Committees; she has been nominated to Managing Committees of 46 schools and other educational institutions; she has been named in the Limca Book of Records 2007. She has been awarded the State Award for Services in Education 1993, National Award for Services as a Teacher of Outstanding Merit 1994, National Award for Outstanding Performance for Welfare of People with Disabilities 1997, Padma Shri 1999, Padma Bhushan 2008, and 49 other awards. She lives at C10/8, Vasant Vihar, New Delhi-110057. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com