County teachers attend non-violence workshops

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 15, 2000

Butler County teachers from the fifth through eighth grades attended workshops on Tuesday and Wednesday at the Greenville-Butler County Library to help children become less violent in their everyday lives.

The program, entitled "Second Step," is a curriculum series which addresses the issues of violence among adolescents by giving teachers a chance to reduce the child's impulsive and aggressive behavior and increase his or her level of social competence through empathy training, interpersonal problem solving, behavioral skills training and anger management.

Betty McQueen, councilor at W. O. Parmer Elementary, said the program has already been in effect in kindergarten through fourth grades in Butler County and has been successful thus far.

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"The idea is to teach students how to be more pro-social, showing more social characteristics by training them to be non-violent," McQueen said. "In kindergarten through fourth grades, we've seen fewer discipline problems, fewer office referrals and more situations in which children have been able to solve their own problems."

All Butler County teachers in fifth through eighth grades were encouraged to attend the workshop, and each one received a $25 stipend for attendance. Because of the different curriculums, the teachers were split into groups based on what grade they teach.

While attending, the teachers went through training by watching videos and having an instructor go through a lesson in the "Second Step" curriculum to illustrate how the lessons should be taught, McQueen said.

She added that in the lessons, children are encouraged to role play, brainstorm and to find possible solutions besides hitting and teasing each other.

"The important part about this workshop and curriculum is to give children a chance to practice good behavior techniques," McQueen said. "Some children don't have good role models to see how to act or a chance to practice good behavior, so the teachers model how to handle a situation and let the children practice it."

Each curriculum is appropriate for the ages in the different grades. For instance, kindergarten classes will use puppets and songs, while middle school children do not.

"The lessons are different, according to the types of problems children face at different age levels," McQueen said.

McQueen added that from what she has seen at W. O. Parmer, the program is very effective.

"It's a good way to talk with and help children because it shows them that they are not to blame for what was done, but shows them that what they do can hurt others and helps them find more appropriate solutions," she said.

"Second Step" has been used across the country since it began being used in Seattle schools in 1989, McQueen said. She added that although there is no program after the eighth grade available, "Second Step" has won many awards and is considered the leading violence prevention program in the country.