|Community Safety and Conservation Division|
The Peacemaker Corps is a youth violence prevention and tolerance education initiative developed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and supported by the Simon Youth Foundation and the Friends of the United Nations. This initiative brings housing, school, and community groups together under one roof to teach youth leaders the necessary skills for conflict resolution, mediation, youth violence prevention, and developing tolerance for their peers.
The Peacemaker Corps is being developed in three phases.
Graduates of the Peacemaker Corps are awarded a medal that identifies them as pioneer "Peacemakers" who will lead others in positive alternatives to youth violence. These youth are committed to helping build a new culture of racial and cultural understanding and tolerance within their communities.
Issues in Youth Violence
Facilitators and students will discuss teen offense and victimization characteristics, including the prevalence of different types of offenses; patterns of teen offense and victimization; and topics such as domestic and intimate violence, date rape, youth gangs, and other issues relevant to the youth of today. Participants will also discuss perceptions of crime among youth and adults and the violence or crime reduction programs to which the students have been exposed. By examining the state of crime and community perceptions of crime, Peacemaker participants will set a solid foundation for the training to follow.
Tolerance & Diversity Training
Participants will discuss attitudes within their communities and will take part in bias awareness exercises. Students will go through exercises to highlight how their own prejudices affect relations with others. Students will also examine how cultural conflicts affect their dealings with others and how these conflicts can lead to resentment or continuing problems. Participants will be introduced to methods by which they can attract multicultural audiences and address problems of cultural conflict within their communities.
Among the risk factors commonly associated with patterns of criminality is lack of attachment to the community or the presence of guiding role models for youth. As a result, mentoring programs have become a common and popular approach to crime prevention. Participants will discuss the important components of these programs and be exposed to mentoring programs undertaken by and for youth. Through this training, participants will learn methods for establishing effective programs that both target and employ youth.
Using a creative curriculum, students will be taught conflict resolution techniques. Conflicts often arise as a result of cultural biases and intolerance. The Peacemaker initiative will address these issues and teach students how to resolve them before they escalate into violence. Students will learn and bring back to their communities the necessary skills to become successful peacemakers, including cooperation, bias awareness, communication, and the ability and willingness to solve problems. When students become accepting of other viewpoints and respectful of their peers, the need for conflict resolution is diminished.
Students will be trained in the skills necessary to conduct mediation, a form of conflict resolution. As part of their training, peacemakers will learn the negotiation and communication skills that are essential when their peers cannot settle issues amicably. The aim is for students, with the assistance of peer mediators, to learn to take responsibility for their actions and make choices that will, in turn, reduce the traditional disciplinary role taken by schools. It is also the ultimate goal of the Peacemaker Corps to have students assist other students in becoming more tolerant and understanding.
How do you motivate students to take part? Or get communities and schools involved? After training these exceptional youth to address the problems of crime and violence in their communities, the Peacemakers Corps will teach them the nuts and bolts of organizing. In this session, participants will gain the know-how and confidence to not only develop programs, but to attract and keep participants and rally support from within their communities.
Want more information on how to get involved?
Contact the Peacemaker Corps Initiative Coordinator,
Matthew Perkins, at (301) 656-6600, ext. 15.
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