Fri, 05 Mar 1999

Teachers need 'psychological training'

JAKARTA (JP): Schools whose students are frequently involved in street brawls were urged on Thursday to intensify psychological training courses for their teachers to enable them to handle problematic students.

Bahar Laut, head of the public order subdivision of the city's social and political affairs directorate, said that the training courses should focus on teaching advanced child psychology to all school teachers.

Bahar said that the existing courses, currently held just once a month, should be given once or twice a week.

The training courses are expected to enable all school teachers to give guidance and counseling to their students.

"Most schools in the city have only two teenage experts or guidance counselors each to handle about 2,000 students. Ideally there should be around 100 such guidance counselors in each school," he said.

"Psychology professors or lecturers of any reputable universities here, like the University of Indonesia, will be glad to train the school teachers," Bahar said.

He reiterated that the training courses should gear teachers up to deal with students who have been jailed for brawling.

"The training courses will enable the teachers not to look upon students who have stabbed people in brawls as wrong-doers, but as people who need to talk," Bahar said.

"The children who have been jailed have never in their lives been given respect. They have always been ignored."

Bahar made the remarks in response to the fact that at least five students have been killed in student brawls in this year's first two months.

He said that neglect usually led students to commit "unthinking" and harmful acts in brawls.

"Teachers should not try to dictate to the students. Just talk with them. Be good listeners and treat them as people, not potential killers... that will draw students to their teachers."

He added that he himself had two high school students who had served time currently at his home.

"The two served time, for one year and eight months respectively, for stabbing people in brawls," he said.

Bahar did some research on them and found out that their parents were not in Jakarta and the kids had spent their childhoods and teenage lives moving from one home to another.

The two, he said, are top-grade students today.

"They plan to work their way to college. Once they have done their bachelor's, I'll ask them to leave in order to make their own lives," said Bahar, head of a communications forum for Jakarta students under the umbrella of the directorate.

Saleh, a student who used to be involved in brawls and is now an active member of the forum, said that usually during these clashes, they were very much aware who the initiators were.

"It takes no time at all to find out which person initiated the brawl, his school, class... everything. He could also be one of our acquaintances," Saleh said.

"But no student wants to be called a snitch. So, we keep quiet."

Bahar said that every school therefore should make monthly behavioral report cards, which record, among other things, recalcitrant students, their behavior and the way teachers handle them.

"Again, principals should not call in brawling students and expel them. Students will not listen. It is the teacher's job to try and talk things out with those students," Bahar said.

He added that there used to be a morale-boosting program for delinquent students held in Cibubur and Pasar Minggu.

"Those programs for problematic students used to take between 10 days and two weeks. They were stopped in 1994... due to lack of funds," Bahar said.

"I heard the city has received a healthier budget this year. I hope they could spare some funds and think of restarting the program."

Meanwhile, the directorate's latest data revealed that 67 schools were noted for having the highest frequency of brawls.

The schools with many problematic students in North Jakarta include technical schools (STM) Bahariawan 45, STM 12 Pluit and STM Cilincing and in West Jakarta STM 3 STM Kedoya, STM PGRI 6, STM PGRI 7, and state-run senior high school SMU Negeri 7.

South Jakarta has, among others, STM Penerbangan PGRI, STM Teladan, STM Bunda Kandung and STM Manggarai; East Jakarta has STM Kalimalang, STM Ristek Kikin (Cakung) and STM Yanmor; Central Jakarta has STM PGRI 1 (Jl. Budi Utomo, STM PGRI 4 (Jl. Budi Utomo, STM PGRI 5, and STM Saint Yoseph. (ylt)