WA group brings 'Alternatives to Violence' to secondary students
Tuesday, September 26, 2023
Skills for reducing violence are becoming essential in schools. At the beginning of the school year, students at a Washington state high school participated in a workshop aimed at doing that. The Alternatives to Violence Project mostly works in jails and prisons around the world. This time, Evergreen High School in King County was the host.
Roger Kluck, executive director, Projects for a Civil Society, the Puget Sound area organization that offers the training locally, said the COVID-19 lockdown is still affecting kids' behavior.
"The kids have lost social graces, social skills, social emotional skills," he explained. "They don't know how to get along with each other after not being in the classroom for long periods of time."
Kluck's organization was not able to offer the workshop to all 1,000 students at the high school, so it was just for ninth graders this year. To have enough staff, Kluck added they put out an international call. Three facilitators traveled from New Zealand and three traveled from Kenya to participate.
Kluck said the ninth graders were timid at first and were reluctant to answer questions in large groups, so they broke the numbers down.
"If we put them in groups of two, three or four, they really enjoyed talking to each other," he explained, "and we'd have them share what's your favorite activity? What do you enjoy doing? What's something about yourself that nobody knows?"
Kluck said the training operates under the idea that "hurt people hurt people."
"A lot of our violence prevention works in healing people from their own psychic pain and teaching them to be empathetic and compassionate, because if I see you as being like me it's much harder for me to want to do violence to you," he continued.
Kluck said his organization plans to bring the Alternatives to Violence Project again to freshmen at Evergreen High School next year.
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