A conflict exists when actions come
into opposition. Conflict can occur within an individual, group,
organization, institution, or nation. Conflicts can cross boundaries. They
can occur between individuals and institutions, and across cultures.
How we manage or resolve conflicts is the central issue. Today, underlying
the violence that surrounds our schools, neighborhoods and communities are
conflicts which have never been addressed or have been improperly resolved.
Indeed in a diverse and complex society, Conflict Resolution Programs are
much needed and an important component of
all schools. In the 60's and 70's this need was understood by the Quakers
and peace activists. In the early 1980's, Educators for Social
Responsibility examined alternative strategies of dealing with violence.
The Children's Creative Response to Conflict, the Community Board's
Program, and the Peace Education Foundation were in the forefront of the movement. In 1984 the National Association of
Mediation (NAME) was formed which served as a clearinghouse for information
and training for school- based conflict resolution programs. In 1983 the
National Institute of Dispute Resolution (NIDR) was formed to promote the
development of conflict resolution tools and processes. Several types of
programs have now emerged in schools of a collaborative and cooperative problem-solving approach involving processes such
as negotiation, conciliation, mediation, fact finding, and arbitration. The
Gandhian method of conflict resolution, called
"satyagraha", or truth force, is
concerned with human needs and recognizes
the importance of resolving the "conflict triangle": the
attitude, the behavior, and the goal incompatability
itself. For Gandhi the desired outcome of a conflict is in the creation of
a better social structure, and a greater degree of human unity.
Needless to say, conflict resolution is a
creative process, and may use several of the above strategies. These
strategies have been found to be more effective than aggresive
adversarial confrontation, which produces "winners" and
"losers." Today, peer mediation, classroom mediation skill
building programs, and violence prevention programs are gaining momentum in
It is our obligation to address
conflicts. It is our obligation to prevent and transform violent conflicts.
Let's create CIRCLES OF PEACE to break the cycle of violence.