Students Reject Violence After Learning Value of Conflict Resolution

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

countering bias.

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

their dilemma.

“These are life skills that are as important as academic skills,” Roderick said.

                        author

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