Last week I a wrote about how violence between and against children seems to be increasingly normalised and accepted as just one of those things.

A friend responded by suggesting that instead of merely banging on about the problem I should try to present some solutions.

I think he was coming from a place of "media are only interested in the negative". There's a reason for that: the positive doesn't need fixing.

But it was a good idea.


I don't usually do requests but it seemed worth finding out what else could be done to protect young people from each other and adults with a very small repertories of ways for dealing with conflict.

So I went looking and it turns out there is quite a lot that can be done, especially for children.

And once you fix the kids, you get fewer violent adults down the track.

Best of all, most of the remedies are free or low-cost so they wouldn't even eat into that $1.8 billion surplus that was briefly waved under our noses last week before being tucked away to fund election-year tax cuts.

Fostering young people's self-respect.

When you respect other people, it's less likely you'll try to sort out your differences by thumping them.

But you can't respect other people unless you respect yourself.

The old saw where two blokes who have knocked the bejesus out of each other end up shaking hands and expressing their mutual respect?

That's not real respect. That's codswallop.

Research shows that young people who are good at things are less likely to turn into the sort of people who lash out with their fists.

So it's important to give kids lots of genuine praise.

This does not mean awarding certificates for participation - even they can see through that.

But it does mean helping them find something they can do that will be worth a certificate.

Ban boxing.

How the practice of encouraging men - and, increasingly, women - to hit each other repeatedly for the entertainment of others came to be seen as a way of giving them a sense of worth is an enigma at best.

Ending the practice would be a very clear signal that violence is unacceptable no matter how you dress it up as being for a good cause.

Have parents, and a few more people.

Studies show that children need at least five caring, compassionate adults as a regular presence in their lives in order to grow into emotionally mature human beings.

Teach empathy.

Children know what it is to get hurt and it's not hard to get them to understand that what they don't like, other people won't like either.

That other people feel the same as we do is nevertheless something that doesn't always come naturally.

Demonstrate non-violent behaviour and ways of resolving conflict.

Kids who grow up around violence do not get the chance to learn the alternatives.

This is one reason why the anti-smacking law will have a powerful effect - a generation is growing up for whom hitting children will be aberrant behaviour.

Give them lots of attention.

The best thing you can do for a child who is exhibiting attention-seeking behaviour is give him or her attention.

It's a perfectly legitimate aim and kids who don't' get enough attention end up feeling they're not taken seriously, which leads to frustration and resorting to non-verbal ways of having an effect on the world.

I don't know how popular these suggestions will be, as many come under the heading of "politically correct".

But what people tend to forget about that label is that half of it is the word "correct".