NEW YORK (ANS) — A study by Columbia University into the effectiveness
of a widely taught conflict resolution program has found that when students
examine the concept seriously, they come to see violence as unacceptable and will
choose nonviolent strategies to resolve conflict.
The two-year study looked into the effectiveness of the Resolving Conflict
Creatively Program (RCCP), one of the largest and longest-running school-based
conflict resolution programs in the country.
The findings showed that students who received substantial RCCP
instruction, identified as about 25 lessons over the school year, tended to see their
social world in a less hostile way, to view violence as an unacceptable option and to
chose nonviolent strategies to resolve conflict. Such students also did better
academically, the report showed.
“This program can successfully reduce kids’ aggressive thoughts and
behaviors,” said Tom Roderick, executive director for Educators for Social
Responsibility — Metropolitan Area, a nonprofit organization that helped create the
program in 1985 in collaboration with the New York City Board of Education.
The curriculum, based on the philosophy that aggressive and violent
behavior is learned and therefore can be reduced through education, is now taught
in 60 schools throughout New York City and is being replicated in 12 other sites
around the country.
“It’s a program that works and is fun for the kids,” Roderick said.
The curriculum is interactive and builds on a set of core skills:
communicating clearly and listening carefully, expressing feelings and dealing with
anger, resolving conflicts, fostering cooperation, appreciating diversity and
Weekly sessions can involve role playing for older students and puppet
shows for younger students. In a weekly session in a first-grade class, for example, a
teacher might present two puppets having a conflict over using a computer, or
another typical situation in the classroom. The teacher guides the students through
a series of questions and brainstorming solutions on how the puppets can cope with
“These are life skills that are as important as academic skills,” Roderick said.
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