EDITORIAL

Stop Violence!

The word “violence” has so many different meanings in the dictionary it can’t be summed up by a dominant feature as other words can. The difficulty to define violence comes from the complexity of the violence phenomenon, whose roots and manifestations could be very different as far as human behaviour is concerned. One of those manifestations actually comes in contradiction with the very definition of a being in a high stage of evolution, even if only biological. A reasonable conclusion can however be more precisely drawn, namely that violence as a momentous outburst or brutal lasting action resulted from the lack of control against the instinctive-biological reactions to attack mostly propagates in those societies marred by severe internal contradictions. Therefore, it is not just alcohol and drugs, but also the socially toxic factors, among which hunger, cold, a gloomy prospect or the unfair, unexpected loss of a dear one could make people lose their grip and unravel the most bestial instincts.

It is exactly this primitive violence that explains the fact that it is mostly the low educated  who tend to lose their cool. That violence is spreading in various forms, even since childhood, is due to the parents’ lacking concern for how they raise their children and the fact that school has to only exercise its influence on barren ground. However, when violence grows, both with respect to its frequency and gravity, with age , serious social contradictions make the matter even worse. And among them, the lack of respect for law dominates the picture. Hence the many traffic law violations, which resulted in over 3,000 deaths last year and many more injured. Yet, breaking the law is not only an individual, but an institutional phenomenon too. This explains why so many of those responsible for deadly road accidents only get suspended sentences, which means they continue being free, free to commit even more violence.

We therefore see how toxic social influences lead to death-causing violence, which shows that its basic remedy envisages more social responsibility. Responsibility is a democratic feature grounded in the equality of opportunities, social advancement based on personal features, character, intelligence and creative action, at odds with such illegal and immoral actions such as today’s corruption in Romania. This is exactly why education, in school and outside it, is called to rely mostly on truly valuable role models, both historic and contemporary. And in order for this action to be successful, educators in general need to have both a broad culture and the gift of giving life to those role models. This is how school and university education could diminish, if not altogether eliminate the current social discriminating contradictions  that fuel violence.

Obviously, there are other means as well to stop the youth’s propensity to violence, yet, their full achievement makes correlation between those means and methods imperative merging into an organic whole, complementing themselves in the mostly preventive function they serve. Bringing violence to a halt, which is manifesting itself even since kindergarten and primary school, calls for violence prevention, not just crackdown. Given the growing violence in schools, some psychologists recommend that some “reflection classrooms” should be set up in schools, aimed at stimulating reflection and self-awareness in the pupils committing acts of violence, who should reflect for circa one hour on the consequences of their action in order that they themselves become aware of the wrong that they have done. While the proposal in itself is a reasonable one, its lacking correlation with the reality in schools makes it inoperable.

We should not forget that many schools don’t have enough room available, which also led to school libraries and doctor’s offices vanishing in thin air, and the so necessary psychologists are nowhere to be seen, most often than not on grounds of substantial expenditure cuts. It is exactly this lack of organic coordination of the proposed solutions, not only in education, but in other social areas as well, that deepen the generalized crisis this country is struggling to cope with, and of which government decision-makers are responsible first and foremost.

Nearly half of Romania’s population lives on the brink of poverty, which makes many young parents go and work abroad, hence the youth’s confusion and suffering, as they begin to feel themselves sidelined, disregarded and eventually abandoned. These are the first steps towards their sliding into violence. Lacking protection, some of them end up in childhood protection centres. Others join the league of homeless children. The result is alienation, health problems, dropping out of school and illiteracy, leading to a personality deficit inducing violence up to murder. Juvenile delinquency has now reached unprecedented heights in this country. And growing up into adult age by no means reduces the state of physical and moral alienation, with killings and suicides taking an increasingly high toll.

This in turn raises several questions: why annual spending on alcohol and tobacco exceeds the state budget funds allotted to Education and Culture? Why is it that psychological counselling services are lacking in schools? Why pre-school education, the first factor instrumental to successful education, is suffering from chronic lack of space? Why this education reform emphasises information and not youth formation and education?

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