Russell Kava and Ellie Webster
Violence often overwhelms us, in our society or in society at large. Doing something to prevent violence is the responsibility of all of us. This do-it-yourself workshop is very suitable for groups of young people or even for your staff team to work on together. Throughout the exercise, ask How could I do this? How could we do this as a group?
1. Change the personal factors that contribute to violence
Think about the messages in your language and work at using nonviolent words or phrases.
Lower your own stress level and learn to cope peacefully with stress.
Learn to cope appropriately with anger and rage.
Build and improve supportive relationships with others.
Work at your own education and seek higher education or further training.
Improve your interpersonal and communication skills.
Foster individual responsibility and accountability.
If alcohol or drug consumption is contributing to violence in your life or the lives of those around you, seek treatment or support.
Be involved in positive and constructive activities.
Reduce your work hours and allow for time with your family and friends.
2. Parents, keep your family free of violence
Learn positive, nonviolent ways to resolve conflicts with your family members and others around you.
Balance work and family time.
Take parent education or child development classes.
Encourage and support your children.
Discipline your children in a consistent, nonviolent manner.
Be a positive role model for your children.
Discourage your children from acting in a violent manner.
Provide a consistent, stable home life for your children.
3. Workers, keep your workplace free of violence
Promote, personally, a workplace environment of open communication and respect, where profanity, threats, harassment and other types of violence are not tolerated.
Report any suspicious incidents that occur in the workplace.
Supervisors and management should respond promptly and supportively to incidents that are indicative of a potential problem.
Take part in conflict resolution classes, interpersonal communication training, employee safety programs and employee assistance programs at your workplace.
Support or establish a violence-free campaign at your workplace.
4. Foster a greater sense of community
Strengthen efforts that foster, support and maintain human relationships and connectedness among families, cultures, organizations and communities.
Develop the strengths, assets and capabilities of all individuals, families and communities.
Support efforts to get to know your neighbours, such as neighbourhood gatherings or community projects.
Foster mutual respect and human dignity for all people.
5. Educate yourself and others on violence and violence prevention
Learn the facts about different types of violence.
Learn about various violence prevention efforts.
Support increased education and awareness of violence and violence prevention.
Work to change the conditions in which violence is rooted, such as racism, sexism, homophobia, ageism, disability discrimination, class, religious bigotry.
6. Work to end those institutional factors that affect violence
Unemployment, over-employment, under-employment, and inflexible work hours.
Overcrowded, unsafe, and poorly designed housing and schools.
Negative peer pressure.
Media promotion of violence.
Societal ambivalence toward violence.
Easy access to weapons.
Lack of after-school activities for youth.
Proliferation of hate groups.
7. Volunteer your time in some way that prevents violence
Seek a group working to prevent violence and give of your time and/or money.
Look to those near you for volunteer possibilities.
Help a friend, neighbour, or relative who is a parent or parent figure by offering to baby-sit, supply transportation, run errands, read a book to a child or simply listen when support is needed.
8. Take some precautions against being a victim of violence
Recognize the warning signs of rage and violence in interpersonal relationships.
Plan your activities ahead of time.
Trust your instincts.
Be aware of your surroundings.
Walk with a confident attitude.
Learn basic self-defence.
Know where your children are at all times.
Ensure the safe supervision of your children.
Make sure your children know their home phone number and address and are familiar with their home neighbourhood.
Know about your children's habits, friends,
favourite places, and other interests and activities.
Have recent photos and/or videos of your children and their medical and dental records on hand.
9. Reach out for help if you cannot cope with a life situation
Parents or other caregivers who feel they cannot cope, connect with your community assistance hotline, talk with a doctor or social worker, or join a support group.
Seek help to cope with your own issues of victimization or abusive tendencies.
10. Encourage decision-makers to be a voice for violence prevention
Promote non-tolerance of violence in your community.
Support and advocate for violence prevention programs.
Promote public policies that support children and families.
Points to remember
Violence is words and actions that hurt people.
Violence is the abusive or unjust exercise of power, intimidation, harassment and/or the threatened or actual use of force which results in or has a high likelihood of causing hurt, fear, injury, suffering or death.
All sectors of the community government, schools, families, religious institutions, businesses, cultural institutions, health-care providers, and youth groups must be involved in violence prevention.
Prevention is essentially a local activity, giving communities a vested interest in violence prevention and increasing the commitment of positive change.
Prevention must be done in concert with efforts to assure public safety.
If citizens do not feel safe in their homes and neighbourhoods, preventing violence will be hard.
Violence prevention must eliminate the risk factors that lead to violence and must strengthen the protective factors that resist violence.
Violence prevention flourishes when a constellation of protective factors and policies combine to produce positive outcomes.