Can young people be taught to manage aggressive behaviour in classrooms or gyms?
According to the UK Government, in the year ending March 2019, there were around 47,000 offences involving a knife or sharp instrument in England and Wales – the highest number of offences since the year ending March 2011.
Worryingly, knife crime is having a devastating effect on young people in the UK, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds. In 2018/19, of those admitted to hospital for assault by sharp object 16.5% were aged 18 or younger.
There are lots of great initiatives being introduced in an attempt to curb knife crime – including a call for innovative technologies that can identify people carrying knives – but is there anything schools can do?
As part of their Serious Violence Action Plan, Greater Manchester’s council and police chiefs are promoting the need for boys aged 12 – 13 to be given ‘anger management’ lessons in school. The focus on boys is based on the idea that it is a culture of ‘toxic masculinity’ that increases the likelihood of teenage boys getting involved in crime. The thinking is that if boys can be guided to manage their own aggression, they will be better equipped to cope with conflict in the real world and, ultimately, stay clear of violent knife crime.
A commendable aim but is a lesson in the traditional setting of a teacher-lead classroom really going to change young boys’ behaviour?
One person who is suggesting an alternative approach is Justyn Page, a former boxer and founder of First Round Fitness (FRF). At the heart of FRF is the belief that sporting activity – in particular non-contact boxing – can promote discipline and determination in young people. In a fun working environment, young people can learn to focus their minds, improve their own self-control and develop real resilience that they can take with them into the world beyond the classroom.
A laudable concept from FRF but what do you think?
How should teachers, carers and the authorities approach the issue of violent crime?
Is it narrow-minded to focus on boys?
Can young people be ‘taught’ to manage aggression, whatever form that ‘lesson’ takes?
This issue raises so many questions. As Justyn is doing, let’s keep thinking of possible answers…