Practicing Peace: The Impact of a School-Based Conflict Resolution Program on Elementary Students

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Abstract

This study was conducted during the second year of a school-based conflict resolution program. Social-cognitive perspective taking, strategy choice, personal history with violence, and school climate were measured before and after peer mediator training and practice. A significant increase in cognitive perspective taking was revealed, indicating that both trained and untrained students became more likely to consider the perspective of others. An empathy effect, however, was not detected. Students' preference for independent conflict strategy choices increased. Patterns associated with ethnicity were also revealed, with African American students showing the greatest increase in cognitive perspective taking, and Hispanic students the greatest increase in preference for independent conflict resolution strategies. Finally, all students, regardless of their personal history with violence, appeared to benefit from this program, as compared with controls where no change was observed.

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