Schools in the Paris suburbs of Seine-Saint-Denis are increasing meditation workshops in an effort to reduce the burgeoning problem with violence on campuses in the area.
The workshops, which include the yoga-based relaxation technique sophrology, started in 2015 in various schools across the no-go suburbs and, according to some school officials, the workshops have led to a decrease in violent behaviour, Le Parisien reports.
Cybele Rusé, the principal of ENNA application high school in Saint-Denis, said after the workshops she saw a change in student behaviour saying, “We have fewer incidents, fewer fights. The students are more involved in the life of the school.”
Simon, a professor of mathematics at Fabien college, added, “With sophrology, we have concrete tools to try to defuse certain situations. For example, a student is asked to touch an object in their pocket to try to divert it from their anger.”
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Gaëlle Piton, the meditation coach who spearheaded the programme, explained “Most young people, especially boys, cannot manage their emotions. They are taught to barricade what they feel, not to be weak. But violence is nothing other than an emotion that needs to express itself.”
Violence in schools in the Seine-Saint-Denis department, which also boats an illegal migrant population of around 400,000 people, has been a major problem for years going as far back as 2010 when teachers staged a walkout protest due to frequent attacks on campuses including the death of a student that year.
Last year in November, another walkout occurred after three major attacks took place in front of schools and four students were seriously injured throughout the year.
School violence is also seen across the rest of the country, including an incident that took place in the commune of Valence last July that saw four underage migrant-background youths arrested after coming to a private school to “beat whites.”