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New tools needed to settle conflicts without violence [Letter]

Dan Rodricks' focus on "disrespect" is spot on ("The insanity of Baltimore's 'disrespect' killings," Jan. 19). In this culture of violence, there are too few tools accepted as legitimate ways to address conflict. In homes, even around schools, young people, especially young men, absorb the message that they must be tough or they will get crushed. Being tough translates to fighting, and too often, weapons are part of the arsenal for conflict resolution.

Larger investments in mentoring and job development programs are needed to provide both models for non-violent conflict resolution and incentives to stay clean of violence. At the same time, schools must invest more time in teaching the social/emotional skills to talk through conflict so the next generation of leaders can be looked up to for being tough negotiators and powerful communicators and problem-solvers. Disrespect will always be an incendiary motivator, especially for the male ego; it is critical that there are non-violent tools of communication for working through the conflict underlying the perceived disrespect.

Barbara Sugarman Grochal, Baltimore

The writer is director of School Conflict Resolution Education Programs at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law's Center for Dispute Resolution.

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Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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