Ending culture of violence


TTUTA joins with the rest of the national community in condemning all forms of violence and, more so, the culture of violence against women that has apparently taken new dimensions.

The violence that pervades the general society manifests itself in many forms including verbal, emotional, psychological, cyber and physical dimensions.

While many lament the senseless and sometimes gruesome acts of violence that have become commonplace in our daily existence, very few seem to be prepared to take any form of concrete action to arrest the trend.

In fact, violence is glorified in film, music, and cyberspace. Social media have become a popular platform for the expression of psychological violence for both young and old. This very often graduates to verbal and ultimately physical violence.

Daily, teachers in classrooms across the country, from as early as pre-school level, spend an inordinate amount of time treating with conflicts between students that ultimately escalate into physical violence.

What is even more disconcerting is that when parents are called in to assist with the efforts of the school to reform the offending behaviour being displayed by their child, one discovers that the parents and the home/community environments would have nurtured and reinforced the violent behaviours on the part of the child.

The social science experts would repeatedly assert that children are products of their socialisation. If children are constantly exposed to violence in all its glorious forms, such is the behaviour they would learn and this would in turn be reflected in their approach to social interaction, with it becoming an integral part of their interpersonal armour.

Many parents instruct their children to resolve conflicts through violence and are usually unapologetic about encouraging their children to engage in such behaviour. Thus, the vicious cycle of violence continues at every turn with ultimate consequences.

While many citizens call on the State to do more to arrest the violent culture that characterises us as a society, they abdicate their responsibility to do their part to fix a social problem that is deeply rooted in our history as a people.

Despite our immense strides in education, we seem to have failed to develop an education prescription to address an ugly facet of our culture. Personal responsibility to condemn acts of violence in all forms in the home and wider community must be reflected by all citizens.

While corporal punishment may have been abolished from schools over two decades ago, what we have instead witnessed is the significant escalation of violent behaviours on the part of boys and girls.

What is obvious is that our informal and social education institutions have failed us badly in this regard, with social media having evolved to the dubious distinction of being the chief reason for this development.

Homes, communities, religious institutions and the media, either by admission or omission, have and continue to contribute to the perpetuation of a culture of violence, with teachers seemingly fighting a losing battle to change ingrained violent behaviours in children at every level.

Laws and policing can only do so much to change negative cultural norms. Personal responsibility on the part of individuals to change the status quo is an imperative in this challenge.

Blaming and the expectation of a messiah to solve this current social disease will and has not helped us in the past nor will it help us now. School curriculum may have to be adjusted to place a greater emphasis on prosocial behaviours, but schools can only do so much, especially when it is the lone soldier in this war.

Fundamental principles of respect and tolerance must be reinforced at every level of our social existence. Children must be exposed to modelled behaviours from adults wherein conflicts and disagreements are resolved via dialogue and compromise.

Parents must be prepared to work with schools in this regard. Schools should not have to be enlisting the assistance of the police to treat with conflict among students because the parents involved are adamant in their quest to get justice and exact revenge.

These are the learned behaviours that ultimately manifest themselves in the high numbers of murders being committed annually. Skewed moral compasses are in urgent need of resetting by our informal education institutions.

While our young boys and men must be taught to accept rejection and that women are not property to be owned, young girls and women must also be taught that emotional and psychological violence are not optional weapons to treat with social relationships that go awry.

We must all collectively lead the change we want to see in this fight against violence.


"Ending culture of violence"

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