Overcoming conflict and preventing violence among children and youth

Overcoming conflict and preventing violence among children and youth

About Programme

Donor: Christliche Fachkrafte International

The programme was supported by the German government’s
Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development

Project execution time: 2007 - 2010

Project background

The period of war and unrest in the former Yugoslavia was followed by the arrival of refugees and displaced people from Kosovo in Serbia. Among these were children,a particularly vulnerable group. The beginning of the transition from socialism to democracy in the early 2000s, required a need for programmes to encourage changes in society in terms of respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms of individuals, respect for other ethnic national and religious communities in the field of peace and tolerance.

By means of humanitarian programmes, Bread of Life has developed good cooperation with primary schools in Belgrade. A large number of teachers in these schools have expressed the need for such education programs, in order to be able to work on preventing increasing violence and conflicts among children, which have significantly disrupted the teaching process and education in general in schools.

General objective of the project: Re-establishing healthy and positive values in a society replete with differences, and helping groups to treat others with mutual respect, as well as establishing an appropriate dialogue between different groups.

General settings of the programme - Overcoming Conflict and Prevention of Violence in Children and Youth

The starting point is the fact that the causes of the conflict lie in the lack of understanding of the existing differences (Martin Buber).

It is necessary to learn that others are not seen as bad, but as different. What is said in theory needs to be made practical and put to work. If we want to create peace, we need to make some effort. In the process, we must start from ourselves.

By using a specially adapted personality structure test, children learn to understand themselves and others. Through different exercises, understanding and a better attitude towards different personality structures is created. In addition, insight is gained into the diversity of possibilities of synergistic effects that lie in differences.

Target group : Teachers, students and parents.

Programme goals:

  •   For schools to accept the process of Conflict Resolution as a process which can be implemented, and be successful, through teaching on acceptance of differences and mutual respect.
  •   Through qualified pedagogical measures, adapted to the special situation and environment in which children live, to mediate in providing the necessary social basics for healthy and safe development.
  •   To help children understand and avoid the paths that lead to aggression.
  •   In this way, teachers, children and schools in general, are moving towards creating new potentials, in synergies and mutual success.

Expected programme results

Teachers are trained to recognize differences and to apply the acceptance method in the teaching process. They are trained to recognize, reduce and prevent aggression, which produces conflict. They are being trained to use the individual approach to children better, through the new method.

Children learn to recognize the causes of conflict and to cope better in conflict situations. In addition, children will transfer the acquired knowledge about conflict resolution to their environment.

Schools receive a method that has been developed for conflict resolution and aggression reduction, in order to provide safe and respectful education.

Programme implementation

The training of teachers of Belgrade primary schools, and the development of these methods, was conducted by an expert from Germany, Prof. Dr. Michael Dieterich, who runs the Institute for Applied Psychology (IPP) in Freudenstadt, together with a team of professors and psychologists.

The entire programme was monitored by a conflict resolution expert from Germany, also a donor representative.

Bread of Life carried out the implementation of the programme in Belgrade.

The programme was implemented in 5 primary schools in Belgrade. A total of 13 teachers from schools were trained to implement this method in schools on their own, but also to conduct seminars as educators in order to expand the programme. Each qualified teacher received a Certificate validated by an authorized expert from Germany who conducted the programme in Serbia.

The seminar’s aim was to acquaint teachers with the main content of the programme and present the impact of the programme on the behaviour of students who participated in it. The seminar was held for 130 teachers from 5 primary schools where the programme took place.

The programme covered a total of 13 classes of 4th, 5th and 6th grade with a total of 299 students during two school years.

At the end of the 2008/2009 school year, a presentation of the programme was made at the Teachers' Assembly of Serbia, where 1,200 teachers participated. The programme was well received by teachers.

At the end of 2009, a request for accreditation of the programme was submitted to the Ministry of Education, since the Teachers' Association of Serbia was ready to actively support the request for accreditation.

The necessary documents were prepared, the so-called "suitcase", for the implementation of the programme. The "suitcase" contains the Manual which explains the theoretical basis of the programme and procedures, as well as the curriculum and detailed preparations for the classes during one school year. There are also posters needed for class programme implementation, a questionnaire for students, and a test of personality structure for adults. There is also a CD with a film made by one class from the school, in which it could be seen how the knowledge gained can be applied in dealing with conflicts and preventing aggression. With the help of this material, and after attending the two seminars, the teachers could then hold classes on this subject and teach others independently.

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