Youth development activities
To avoid involvement in violence, students need more opportunities for healthy, productive activities and less opportunities for engaging in negative behaviour. Some examples are:
Positive adults acting as teachers, role models and mentors can instil in students a higher value on staying in school and avoiding violence. Mentors and role models can be local business owners, community residents, university students, senior citizens, secondary school students, student athletes and teachers.(40) Mentoring interventions include activities such as tutoring, counselling, cultural enrichment, social skills development, life experience sharing, summer jobs and sporting events.
• Service learning
Service learning, or using service to the community as a "hands-on" approach to learning, can be linked to anti-violence courses to promote youth leadership, help young people care for others, and to heighten awareness of how poverty, substance abuse and other social ills cause violence. Students can serve their community in numerous ways, such as cleaning up neighbourhood streets, building a playground, tutoring young and old members of the community, assisting sick, elderly or handicapped community members with housecleaning and chores, providing childcare, or volunteering their time and talents, such as singing or dancing in hospital settings.
Service learning projects can also aim to counter violence more directly. For example, the principal of an elementary school located in a high-crime area of the United States instituted the "Peaceful Playground" project to reduce violence. As "playground monitors," students selected and trained in peer mediation and conflict resolution became well-versed in "Rules of Peace," and not only stopped physical altercations, but instituted ground rules for peaceful conversation as well.
In serving their school as role models and problem-solvers, the students became increasingly more aware of alternatives to the violence around them.(47)
• Art programmes
Art programmes can nurture resiliency and social skills and provide a safe place where young people can practise respect for differences, listening skills and cooperative learning.(48) They can also provide youth with excitement, challenge and relief from boredom, as well as the opportunity to develop characteristics, like discipline and creative problem-solving, that help to prevent violence. Art programmes can also create positive changes in the environment, helping to revitalise communities that have been affected by crime and poverty. Examples of art activities include drama, dance, painting, photography, music, sculpture, film, video, computer graphics, puppetry, writing, oral history, storytelling, architecture, design and toymaking. The larger community's cultural resources can be used: museums, theatres, music groups, singing groups, local artists and performers, dance and literary organisations and community centres.
• After-school activities
Try to organise recreational, physical and sports activities for students after school. One example is to form clubs that meet the interests of students. As a means of counteracting student involvement in gang violence, one school in New York City formed over 50 clubs, including Yoga, Floral Design, Sports, International Pen Pal, Ceramics, Science, Movies, Drama, Reading, Math Counts, We Make a Difference (visiting senior citizens homes), Singing, Poetry and Walking.(49)
• Career exploration
Counselling in career opportunities, training in job skills, and work experience placements or apprenticeships can provide students with technical, entrepreneurial and vocational skills and help improve the economic futures of young people, combat poverty and joblessness and contribute to violence prevention efforts. (50)
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