Assertiveness training and conflict management taught in all Catholic schools from Year 7 would reduce bullying and boost the self-esteem of ostracised students, according to parenting expert Mrs Elizabeth O'Connor.
   Such programs would help young teenagers cope with peer group pressure at a time when being part of a group was everything to them, said Mrs O'Connor, the senior parent educator at Centacare in Adelaide.
   They would also result in students becoming successful adults who were prepared to take responsibility for their own actions.
   She said teaching students to assert themselves, manage conflict and accept differences between people was as important as learning calculus. Mrs O'Connor said most schools had strategies for bullies and pastoral care programs touching on development but she would like assertiveness training courses adapted for teenagers and taught annually from Year 7 on. In years 8 and 9, teenagers felt very stressed by peer group pressure and being part of the "in" group.
   "Assertiveness is a really important part of young people's lives," she said. "Self-esteem is an important element of assertiveness and you can't be assertive unless you have good strong feelings about yourself and your ability to manage and succeed.
Southern Cross


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