Building a culture of peace
Once the meeting starts, welcome everyone and ask the participants: • Who can help us remember what we talked about in our last meeting? • Who was able to do the activity at home that we asked you to do at the end of the meeting? How did it go? • Does anyone have questions or concerns after doing the activity?
What are we going to learn?
We are going to learn how to promote a culture of peace and prevent violence in the family and community. LET’S TALK ABOUT IT! We are going to look at some pictures, so we can talk about what we all know about this topic.
What things can promote violent attitudes in the children of the community?
What things can you teach your child to help them develop pacifist and non-violent attitudes?
What activities can you do in your family and community to promote a culture of peace?
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“Peace balloons” We are going to play a game with balloons in order to identify who are the people most vulnerable to violence in our community.
What we’ll need: • Balloons • Yarn
WHAT WE’LL DO: • Peace song Start by asking the participants the following questions: Who are the people most affected by violence in your community? How can we protect them? • Ask the participants to form groups of three and give each participant an inflated balloon with a string on it. Tell them to tie the balloon around one of their ankles. • Now tell the group that in this exercise everyone has the power to pop people’s balloons. Each group of three should work together to protect their balloons from being popped. When someone’s balloon pops they leave the group of three and start to pop other people’s balloons including their own teammates. Play until just a few people are left with their balloons intact. • Ask everyone to sit in a circle and comment on how they felt about the game. Who were the most vulnerable in the group and why? What did the others do to protect them? How did people feel when those who were the protectors turned into the aggressors? Other Suggestions: To end the meeting, put on a well known song about peace (Could be Blowin’ in the Wind by Peter, Paul and Mary). You can write the words on the flipchart and can ask everyone to sing together and reflect on what the words mean. How many roads must a man walk down Before they call him a man? How many seas must a white dove sail Before she sleeps in the sand? How many times must the cannon balls fly Before they’re forever banned? The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind The answer is blowin’ in the wind. How many years must a mountain exist Before it is washed to the sea? How many years can some people exist Before they’re allowed to be free? How many times can a man turn his head And pretend that he just doesn’t see?
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind The answer is blowin’ in the wind. How many times must a man look up Before he can see the sky? How many ears must one man have Before he can hear people cry? How many deaths will it take till he knows That too many people have died? The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind The answer is blowin’ in the wind. The answer is blowin’ in the wind.
What did we learn today? Now, we’ll review what we discussed today. • How do you feel after this meeting? Why? • What are the two most important things you’ve learned today? • What will you do differently based on what you learned during the meeting? • What did you like the most? Are there things you didn’t like? • Do you have any remaining concerns or questions about what we talked about? To finish, what would you recommend to improve today’s meeting when we do it again with another group. (Explain that answering this question will help the meeting be even better in the future for parents with small children.)
To do at home:
Tell parents to think about which of their children’s toys promote violence and whether they may want to get rid of those toys.
Basic information for the facilitator: Learning more about building a culture of peace: 1- Aggressive behavior:
• Young children are influenced very easily by what is going on around them. Many studies have shown that children who see violence (either directly or on television) are more likely to imitate violent behavior they see. • Children, especially boys, engage in more aggressive behavior with their brothers and sisters and other friends, if they regularly witness other people fighting. This aggressiveness can be verbal or rough play and can sometimes turn into much more frequent physical aggressiveness. • Parents and educators have an important role to play in the home and at school in emphasizing a culture of peace and discouraging violence in play, language, and school.
• Parents need to monitor young children’s television viewing to make sure they are not seeing too much violence. • Parents can also help their young children by talking to them about which of the behavior they see on TV is good behavior and which is not. Young children find it very difficult to understand the distinction between fact and fiction, reality and make believe. They are more likely than older children to imitate what they observe without understanding the potential implications of their actions. So, when they watch violent programs they are more likely to act out aggressively. section 11 / community topics • meeting 67
64 • Sometimes imitating what they see can be dangerous to children. In 2008, a public hospital in Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras, noted a “surprising number of pre-school children hospitalized due to injuries sustained from imitating action figures.” In several cases, young children had leapt from second story roofs thinking they had the same abilities as their TV role models. In another case, a 5-year-old child had broken his hand while trying to break a brick in two with a karate chop.
3- Violence causes distress in children:
• Studies have shown that young children can become very distressed when exposed to violence. Becoming more aggressive is not the only way children express their distress and the way they respond is closely related to their age. • Infants: Infants depend on adults to look after them. They sense the emotions of their caregiver and respond accordingly. If the adult is calm and responsive and is able to maintain the daily routine, the baby will feel secure and have fewer symptoms of stress. If the adult is anxious and overwhelmed, the infant will feel unprotected and may display a variety of symptoms including: • Fussing, sleep problems, disruptions in eating, withdrawal, lethargy and unresponsiveness • Toddlers: At this age children begin to interact with the broader physical and social environment. As with infants, toddlers depend on adults to look after them and will respond to traumatic situations in the same way as their adult caretakers. Common reactions in toddlers include: • Sleep problems, disruptions in eating, toileting problems (e.g. wetting him/herself), increased clinging to caretaker, withdrawal • Preschool Children: Children at this age may have more social interactions outside of the family. Their language, play, social and physical skills are more advanced. With these skills, they are more capable of expressing their thoughts and feelings, particularly following a traumatic exposure to violence. Common responses include: • Sleep problems, disruptions in eating, increased tantrums, bed-wetting, irritability and frustration, defiance, clinging and preoccupation with violent events
4- Educating Children about Violence
Parents and teachers can help young children develop positive attitudes about peace and against violence, by engaging them in simple discussion about these subjects, and by providing opportunities for play, drama, songs, and other activities that emphasize the importance of sharing, empathy, peaceful resolution of differences, and kindness to others.