PW 0163 A human rights framework to understand, prevent, and respond to youth and school violence

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Abstract

To date, two fundamental approaches to understanding and responding to violence have been articulated: a criminal/juvenile justice approach and a public health approach. In this presentation, we will present a third approach based upon human rights. A human rights framework for understanding and responding to youth and school violence is comprised of four fundamental components. First, it provides principles and norms, as well as a positive vision, for understanding and contextualizing the rights of children and their caretakers. Second, this framework makes visible multiple forms of violence, humiliation, and abuse—whether reflected in behavior, educational climate, curricula, neighborhood norms (e.g., retaliatory violence), discipline practices, or in regulations or policies—as infractions of fundamental human rights. Instead of focusing on incidents of violence, a human rights framework monitors and assesses whether human rights are appropriately accorded within the educational and neighborhood setting. Third, a human rights framework recognizes that human rights are not passively given but rather require participatory engagement, critical reflection, and meaningful dialogue among all stakeholders. As such, human rights framework establishes guidelines not only for the content and purpose of what is taught in educational settings, particularly as it impinges upon the rights of children, but, as importantly, for the form of the pedagogical process itself. And fourth, a human rights framework dictates responsibilities monitor and adhere to established rights and requires all individuals, groups, and institutions to remedy human rights violations in whatever guise they appear. Particular attention must be paid to the examination of human rights’ adherence in one’s own community. In addition, a human rights framework requires the adoption of preventive, corrective, and therapeutic programs and strategies. Such strategies will be illustrated through reference to human rights education practices and programs, as well as through a case study of youth community organizing.

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