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Teaching Kids Peacemaking Skills

Peace First is working to create a kinder, gentler tomorrow by teaching our kids right today.

By Eric D. Dawson

We all know the headlines of fear and worry facing our children: bullies, school shootings, apathy and disagreement. But our current responses—overprotecting our kids by keeping them in a nurturing bubble or overreacting by punishing them in advance with zero-tolerance policies and metal detectors—only worsen the problem. It's time to stop viewing our children as either potential victims or perpetrators and empower them as agents for positive change. In other words, we need to prepare our young people to be peacemakers. Not holding-hands-and-singing-songs peacemaking, but the crucial work of compassion, coming together to solve problems and taking risks to assist others.

For more than 20 years I've been visiting schools to teach children the essential skill of peacemaking. I'm always amazed by how hungry young people are—even children, my own included—to make a difference. Our job as parents is to show them the way. Here's how you can prepare kids for the crucial work of healing a broken world.

From dance lessons to SAT prep, we think about everything our kids need in their toolboxes for success. Let's make a similar commitment to instilling and modeling the basic building blocks of peacemaking. There's nothing simpler—and nothing more important.

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