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Conflict handling skills needed for young and old

Update: October, 12/2016 - 09:00
Viet Nam News

By Bích Hường

People have started talking more about conflict handling skills for both children and adults after the suicide of a 15-year-old boy last month. The student, from northern Yên Bái Province, was forced to kneel in public and say “Sorry” to one of his schoolmates after a conflict between them in school.

The mother and cousin of the schoolmate, after being told about the conflict, helped him get even with his “rival” by stopping him on the road, beating him and even forcing him to kneel in public and apologise.

The victim of the shaming, Huy, allegedly tried to hang himself because of the humilating experience that had been recorded and posted on the Internet. After the beating, Huy had to spend a week at hospital for the injuries he sustained, including a brain injury.

The boy said to his mother that he was ashamed, as he had been filmed being beaten and kneeling in public, and that he did not want to go back to school.

Huy’s mother, Trần Thị Nga said she reassured her son that she had reported the case to the school and to police so that they could help, but it’s wasn’t enough.

“She [the mother of Huy’s schoolmate] is a woman. She is a mother. How could she have the heart to beat my son, injure him and lead him to commit suicide like that?” Nga asked.

Her words have resonated with many people, particularly other women and mothers.

Conflict is said to be a normal part of any healthy relationship. Conflicts between children at school can usually be handled by the children themselves, though sometimes they need the assistance or advice of teachers or families.

When conflict is mismanaged, it can cause great harm to a relationship, but when handled in a respectful, positive way, conflict provides an opportunity to strengthen the bonds between people.

Unfortunately, in this case, a mismanaged conflict resulted in the death of a 15-year-old boy.

Moreover, children’s behaviors are said to reflect the way they have been educated or the ways their parents behave. We should be worried to hear of the behaviour of this woman who beat and insulted a child as a way to protect her own son.

We should also be worried about the witnesses to the conflict who, instead of intervening to stop the spectacle, used mobile phones to record and publicise it.

Pessimistically, the case is reminding people about increasing school violence and its expanding character.

In March 2015, five schoolgirls and two schoolboys in Lý Tự Trọng Secondary School in Trà Vinh Province beat a student with plastic chairs because she refused to do errands for them. In the same month, twenty schoolboys of Phúc Diễn Secondary School in Bắc Từ Liêm District in Hà Nội, after insulting each other with obscenities, broke into a violent fight.

During a fight among students at Nguyễn Du Secondary School in southern Hậu Giang Province, a female ninth grader was beaten unconscious and had to be taken to hospital. An eleventh grader of Tử Đà High School in northern Phú Thọ Province lost the ability to speak after he was beaten by classmates.

Khuất Thu Hồng, director of the Institute for Social Development Studies, told Infonet.vn that the case in Yên Bái Province showed a lack of conflict handling skills among both children and adults.

When children fight, parents should keep calm. They could meet to handle the conflict and educate the children together instead of acting unlawfully and immorally, she said.

The victim clearly suffered from a big shock before killing himself, but he did not receive enough assistance to overcome the shock.

For example, when the student was absent from class for weeks, the school and teachers should have visited him and expressed care towards him.

“This regrettable thing happened partially because the boy and his parents lacked conflict handling skills,” she said, adding that in Việt Nam, few such psychological consultation services were available.

Former Vice Head of the Education Department under the National Institute of Education Management, Lê Thị Loan, said that the case in Yên Bái also showed that the school and teachers did not pay enough attention to their students.

“The school should have been responsible to settle the conflict between children as soon as it started at school,” she said.

Schools now were too concentrated on teaching knowledge instead of soft skills including conflict handling, she said.

Some teachers said that they were too busy with students at school and they were not responsible for what happened to their students outside of school. — VNS

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