Conflict Resolution Education Connection

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Juvenile Delinquency and CRE

Research indicates that conflict resolution programs help to reduce anti-social behavior. A recent meta-analysis reports the following:

This meta-analysis examines more than twenty-five years of evidence to determine whether participation in school-based conflict resolution education (CRE) contributes to reduced antisocial behaviors among youth in kindergarten through twelfth grade in U.S. schools. Evidence from thirty-six studies, representing 4,971 students, shows improvements in antisocial behaviors in CRE participants compared to control groups (Effect Size  .26), with larger effects observed during mid-adolescence ( ES  .53) and early adolescence ( ES  .22) compared to middle childhood ( ES  .06). Improvements in antisocial behavior outcomes attributable to CRE are significant in both practical and statistical terms and are similar for different CRE program approaches.

Conflict Resolution Education and Antisocial Behavior in U.S. Schools: A Meta-Analysis by WENDY M. GARRARD and MARK W. LIPSEY, CONFLICT RESOLUTION QUARTERLY, vol. 25, no. 1, Fall 2007

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, U.S. Department of Justice has actively supported the use of conflict resolution programming in juvenile justice settings. A May 1996 National Satellite Teleconference (still available for viewing with Windows Media Player) provided the following advice:

Conflict Resolution in Juvenile Justice Settings

It is important to remember that conflict resolution programs should not be limited to traditional school settings. These programs are also vital for juvenile justice facilities and alternative schools to change the institutional handling of conflict from a punitive focus to one that uses problem-solving methods. In these settings, conflict resolution programs are introduced not to replace but to supplement existing disciplinary policies and procedures. With opportunity for positive expression and problem resolution, youth in juvenile justice facilities and alternative schools learn alternatives to violent and self-defeating behavior.

Conflict resolution programs for juvenile justice facilities and alternative schools serving delinquent and at-risk youth have similar issues to address. In both settings, the implementation of an effective conflict resolution program requires addressing the psychological and social development needs of the youth. Youth in these alternative placements often lack the foundation skills of conflict resolution, especially those associated with orientation, perception, and emotional abilities. Many of them have a long-held sense of personal failure and view success in life as something beyond their ability to achieve. While conflict resolution programs are not personal therapy programs, choosing to offer education in conflict resolution provides a strategy to help address areas of deficiency.

Further, the more involved a youth is in self-destructive, anti-social, or violent behavior, the greater the need to provide practice in the strategies and principles of conflict resolution. Conflict resolution for us all requires much repetition of the strategies for those strategies to become the behaviors of choice in pressured, stressful situations. The greater the gap between an individual’s current behavior and the desired behavior of conflict resolution, the greater the need for practice and coaching. However, the desired behavior must be reinforced beyond the school or juvenile justice setting for youth to successfully manage conflict in their lives. It is critical that young people practice conflict resolution strategies in the home and community, as well as in natural environments. (from the teleconference Participant Guide)