If there is any reason to be surprised at the problem of violence in our schools, it is that social observers are surprised at the onset of violence. To a lot of us the reality of violence has been visible in Mauritian society at many levels, at the level of schools but also at the level of the family, in the public sphere as in the private sphere. It takes the form of implicit  prejudices within which we construct our worlds – and in a multicultural nation these prejudices are many – as we teach our children unconsciously to internalize modes of thinking which privilege some identities at the expense of others. We internalize these prejudices in the conscious and unconscious language of the home environment. We wish to think that we are free from prejudice. But a lot of us construct our worlds on the disdain of those who cannot speak French properly, those who are weak, those who are poor, those who are of a different gender, those who do not have prestigious jobs, those who are socially nervous, or those who cannot live up to the standards we live by. In addition to this micro-violence which we practise in the home and in the work place, we have inherited the structural violence of a society already created from a substratum of historical violence which aims to reinvent itself through new capitalism, compounding violence upon violence as it further squeezes wage earners in the tight corners of low wages  and extended work hours, in the pursuit of capitalist profit.
The average citizen feels constrained by the inevitability of difficult work conditions and low wages. This extends as a hopeless tunnel which no politician in power seems to be willing or capable of addressing as the ordinary citizen is witness to a string of abuses of power by one and all. The structural violence of social conditions further compounds the micro-violence of interpersonal relationships.
There is no getting out of this vortex of violence without the power of dialogue. However, it would be a fallacy to say that religion or tradition offer a solution to violence. If in their founding texts all religious traditions have tolerance and love at their core, over the years and centuries the manipulative transformation of religious discourses has created as many spaces of tyrannical control over the individual. Highlighting the religious discourse of tolerance will be a temporary and, in the long term, an ineffective measure. We have to look elsewhere to institute dialogue over identities.
We can leave things to worsen. And we probably will for a long time to come yet. Until violence becomes a byname for our society.
Or we could think of the long term solutions to this problem, independently of whether we can afford to live in gated communities or in spaces open to all forms of gratuitous violence.
One way of doing this could be by promoting public platforms for exploring issues of  identity, of how we live together, of what mutual respect means, of our attitude to women’s role in society, our attitude to the poor, to the handicapped, the mentally unstable, to those of different faith, of different sexual orientation.
It is important that we be reminded of the significance of human rights and the way it impacts on our daily life and the responsibility of each and every one of us in  enforcing  them.
There are many ways to do it – through sensitization campaigns which must come after a national reflection of the issue of Human rights, mutual tolerance and respect. But we note that, always, when we have resorted to public debate in this country, the platform is always hijacked by the known faces, the rehearsed voices and rehearsed opinions who think that they should monopolise the discourse and the eventual policy-making, if we ever reach that stage.
Maybe the solution lies through Art, through the performative arts like theatre, which can entertain as well as educate while helping to smoothen social disturbance. There is a lot to be said for the participatory theatre pioneered by Augusto Boal which is now the subject of study everywhere and implemented in zones of conflict and social disturbance. One only needs to surf the net to see how the whole world is benefitting from this.
Far be it from me to privilege one art form over any other. But participatory theatre has this virtue that it can speak to all, elite and non elite alike, young and old, poor and rich, men and women. It does so by creating a mirror through which we can explore our major concerns and see  confront our failings.
But how does one even begin to implement change when it is obvious that the people who should function as role models in our society fall far below their duties? Be it parents or teachers. It would be futile to go into examples to illustrate the failure of parents and teachers.
In the specific case of violence in schools it is clear that students are reproducing schemas of violence to which they are either witness or victims in the environment outside school. However, it is to be wondered how far teachers feel committed to supporting and counseling students in schools. It is not only in cases of extreme violence that students need support. Young adolescents need support throughout their school life. This is a space in life when all the major questions about the meaning of existence are compounded into an eternity of questioning through the power of hormonal transformations which affect young people emotionally. Are teachers ready to offer support there? Are they prepared for it? Does there exist enough concern in our schools for the emotional life of our young people or are they crushed by a system which functions more as a prison, prison to their dreams, prison to their energies and their imagination, prison to their emotions. Is it not a violence done to our children when their teachers fail to work in class, show disinterest in promoting student interest in the subject they teach, or when rectors fail to respond to signs of distress in children? Disinterest is violence, sometimes more deadly than overt violence because it is not visible. It functions insidiously and crushes people into areas of non-being. To every concerned and committed teacher there exists at least one unconcerned and non-committed teacher who has a direct responsibility in creating suffocating environments for their students.
If we wish to make a change we need to address the issue of teacher involvement at this level, it is only through this that we can hope to eventually reach parents whose role do not overlap with teaching roles.
The tentacular nature of this problem of violence demands that it be addressed at multiple levels.
We are too far gone in the many manifestations of social violence to hope it will all end soon. As I write these lines I realize the futility of words in attempting to understand the epidemy we face, if this remains marooned at the level of discourse, not followed by action.  I end this fully aware of the disparity between of writing from a comforting space and the difficulty of hands on involvement with situations of social emergency. But it needs to be reiterated: it is urgent to institute an audible counter-discourse to the reactionary discourses which promote social violence in its many forms.