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By deploying mental health programs for children

Waging peace through forgiveness in Belfast, Northern Ireland II: Educational programs for mental health improvement of children

Robert D. Enright, Jeanette A. Knutson Enright, Anthony C. Holter, Thomas Baskin, Casey Knutson

Journal of Research in Education, 2007

Research details

Type of paper: Primary Empirical Study

Sample size: 486

Open Access: Yes

Description

Peace efforts that focus on children occur infrequently and are rarely researched. Because excessive anger can lead to violence and because student anger is an important and increasing concern within the school setting, three studies were done to address this issue within Belfast, Northern Ireland. In Study 1, 309 first-grade students from Belfast, and Milwaukee and Madison, Wisconsin completed the Beck Anger Inventory-Youth. Children in the two impoverished and violent environments presented with statistically significantly greater anger than those in Madison. In Studies 2 and 3, using a teacher/psychologist consultation model, psychologists instructed and supported teachers who led forgiveness interventions with first grade children (N= 36 experimental, 57 control) and third-grade children (N= 35 E, 49 C) in Belfast. In each case, the children whose classrooms were randomly assigned to the forgiveness intervention reduced statistically significantly in anger relative to the children whose classrooms were in the control group. For the third grade study, the children in the experimental condition also improved more in forgiveness and reduced more in psychological depression than their control counterparts. Implications for peace education regarding anger reduction in schools, especially in socially contentious regions, are discussed.