By Christopher Paslay
There are many theories as to why violent crime is increasing in our region’s neighborhoods and schools. Some say it’s the availability of illegal guns on our streets. Others say it has to do with the failure of social service programs to provide help to those in need. In my opinion, violent crime in our society boils down to one thing: the inability of people to control their anger.
One way for our society to reduce its rage is to make anger management a part of public school curriculum. In my opinion, anger management should be taken as seriously as English, math and science. After all, how is a student going to learn Einstein’s Theory of Relativity if he can’t control his temper enough to refrain from assaulting his physics teacher?
Teaching courses on anger management should start in college, where our future educators are being trained. In addition to learning how to give tests and write lesson plans, aspiring teachers should be required to take courses in behavioral psychology, and receive practical training in stress reduction and meditation. They should also be required to work with children with mild behavioral disorders as part of their co-op teaching, and pass an “anger management” assessment on the National Teacher Exam.
Once teachers are trained in anger management, they could pass this important skill onto their students, kindergarten through 12th grade.
At the elementary level, teachers could model simple relaxation techniques to their students. They could show youngsters how to take deep breaths in stressful situations to control their tempers. They could also explain how to use mental imagery to keep calm, to visualize a peaceful place or recall a relaxing experience when anger surfaces.
At the middle-school level, students could learn to use problem solving and communication to deal with angry feelings. Problem solving involves generating a plan of attack to keep from getting overwhelmed by life’s difficulties, such as conflicts with peers and family. And they could use communication to take the time to talk things out with other individuals, rather than getting angry and jumping to conclusions.
High school students, with nine full years of anger management techniques under their belts, could then be exposed to cognitive restructuring. This basically means students would learn to change the way they think. This is a higher level of anger management, because teens must first have the presence of mind to become aware of their thinking. Once they’re aware of their thinking, they may notice it’s irrational or self-destructive. They may realize that they are their own worst enemy, because they are constantly belittling themselves. And how do teens stop belittling themselves? By making a conscious effort to replace their negative thoughts with positive ones; as a result, they will be less likely to react with violence toward themselves or someone else.
Anger management should be a requirement in all public schools in our region. If kids are given techniques to control their tempers at a young age, we can reduce rage in society and help prevent violent crime.