PHILIPSBURG–Nine trainers have just completed an aggression replacement training (ART) class and ten more have been re-certified in the cognitive behavioural intervention programme for reduction of aggressive and violent behaviour in adolescents.
ART is a 10-week-long three-hours-a-week course that has been used in schools and sports teams with great success in giving troubled youth the tools to control emotions and stay out of fights.
The ART programme is divided into three components: social skills, anger control training and moral reasoning. The four-day train-the-trainer programme and the one-day re-certification were a collaborative effort of Rotary Club of St. Maarten, the Dutch representative VNP, Foundation Judicial Institutes St. Maarten (Stichting Justitiële Instellingen St. Maarten (SJIS)), St. Maarten Yacht Club and St. Maarten Little League’s Player Development programme.
Research has shown that many people who become aggressive and perhaps even violent have not learned how to control and manage anger.
The ART programme began nearly 30 years ago as a means of helping reduce gang violence in the Chicago area and has been effective and expanding ever since.
ART starts by teaching aggressive individuals, usually in groups of six, 10 social skills such as how to make a complaint; how to keep out of fights; and how to apologise, respond to failure, negotiate and understand the feelings of others.
Phase two helps the individual recognise that he or she is getting angry. The students are taught to understand what triggers their aggression and to recognise their body signals that they are getting upset, and then are given tools to help relax. Once the person has calmed down, ART teaches the group how to use the social skills to resolve the conflict that caused the anger.
The third and final part of the programme is called moral reasoning, whereby the group is given a series of difficult situations in which they must figure out how to choose the best response. The course is quite dynamic, with a lot of discussion and, more importantly, modelling. The trainers role-play scenarios to show the group alternative ways to act instead of being aggressive.
Once the skill is modelled, each of the participants takes on the role and practises the skill and anger control techniques. Between sessions the students are asked to try out the skills as homework and report back how the encounter went. Then more modelling takes place.
The training was conducted by Peter Bleumer from the Netherlands. “I started in ART in 2000,” said Bleumer. “I did the first ART class for the Dutch islands years ago and come back each year.”
To remain a certified ART trainer, a practitioner has to conduct at least one ART class a year and attend a one-day update programme annually. Unfortunately, ART training all but stopped in St. Maarten with the passing of Hurricane Irma in 2017, as course material and even venues were destroyed.
ART can be used as either an intervention after an aggressive person has gotten in trouble with the law or as a prevention programme. A judge can order aggressive individuals to take the course or, at Player Development, parents or teachers can recommend children to the free programme, stated Bleumer.
The intervention programme works best in an after-school setting where the children are in a group like a sports team. They take the class with a coach or adult mentor. Once the course is completed, the group stays together and, as problems arise, the mentor can help the children recall their ART training and work through their issues.
Certified were social workers, and representatives of K-1 Britannia, National Institute for Professional Advancement (NIPA), Sister Basilia Centre, St. Maarten Baseball Academy, Turning Point and the Youth Brigade.
Certified are: Sharlesha Vanterpool, Guicindy Glascow, Maurits Merkman, Amanda Browne, Ivan Plantein, Jennely Luidens, Alexander Adoptie, Malaika Richards and Agnes De Polo.
Re-certified are: Kharisha Seymour, Meredith Concincion, Sarina Petrona, Greta Pantophlet, Fernando Richardson, Jackeline Mardenborough, Byron Isebia, Jacques Heemskerk, Aida Holaman and Roana Vis.
For more information about access to ART training for youth contact Player Development at 554-8580 or e-mail