Building the Case for Peace

Schools in the United States should be safe havens for learning and teaching. They should be free from violence, crime, hatred, and fear.  When students and teachers feel afraid, unsafe, and marginalized at school, it not only affects the educational process but the school and the community at large. The reality is that students across the country experience violence with and without weapons, bullying, victimization, and fear.  In fact, 2018 was the worst year on record for gun violence at schools according to the US Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Homeland Defense and Security, which counted 94 school shooting incidents in 2018. Often resources lack to deal with these issues in a systematic manner, and the offered solutions do not always involve the students themselves.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that youth violence is a significant public health problem and finds that “social-development strategies that teach kids how to handle tough social situations” are an effective retention strategy because “they learn how to resolve problems without using violence (CDC, Understanding Youth Violence, 2015). When students are in safe learning environments and are emotionally connected, they can better focus on academic requirements, which is one of the many reasons why CRE is designed to enhance both academic achievements and social and emotional wellness among youths.

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According to CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS):

Learning to cope with conflict in a productive, healthy way should be an important aspect of every child’s education. Unfortunately, too many – especially those living in communities impacted by poverty and violence – never do so.

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An Integrated Conflict Resolution Education Curricula

The Domestic Harmonizer Program (DHP) is intended to give middle school students and educators the skills they need to be able to identify conflict in their lives and respond in a positive way. This program (both boosts learning and promote peaceful resolution of conflicts on campus. The program, which infuses values, attitudes and behaviors conducive to peace and non-violence into the core academic curricula, allows students and teachers to learn tools, skills, and processes to prevent and resolve conflicts and to enhance youth leadership. Our innovative curricula – rooted in conflict resolution education – incorporates state Common Core standards in English, social studies, math, and science so that teachers can integrate the curricula into their classrooms. The intent is to create cultures of peace at these schools. After a successful pilot of the program in Carson, California, WPDI plans to expand the DHP to additional schools in the Southern California area in fall of 2019.