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Indiana Group Works to "Teach Peace" to Children

Conflict resolution and giving children hope are being used as tools to keep them out of trouble in Indiana. (Veronica Carter)
Conflict resolution and giving children hope are being used as tools to keep them out of trouble in Indiana. (Veronica Carter)
April 20, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS - One of the most famous quotes about hope is from Desmond Tutu: "Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all the darkness." That's one of the many themes at the Peace Learning Center in Indianapolis, which will host a Youth Empowerment Summit next week.

The group works with parents, teachers and children on conflict-resolution and communication skills, and has helped establish peace programs around Indiana and across the country. For many children who grow up without a lot of advantages, said Tim Nation, PLC's co-founder and executive director, hope has all but been erased from their lives. However, Nation said he thinks they can get it back.

"We have way too much violence in our communities," he said. "We need to empower and teach people how to be peacemakers. We can teach kids how to play instruments, we can teach them math, we can teach 'em science. Why can't we teach them the art of peace?"

The Peace Learning Center began in 1997, Nation said, but the idea of "spreading peace" to kids is still in its infancy. On April 27, about 200 teens will attend an all-day seminar in Indianapolis to explore ways to get involved in their community.

The group has set up conflict-resolution programs in other cities, and Nation encouraged school districts and community organizations to offer similar services. He said people need to get back to spending quality "face time" with each other.

"We're in such a cyber world where people are hiding behind screens, we're losing our ability to work face-to-face with people," he said. "I think when people learn those skills and they start being part of a community, that helps give them hope."

Nation said parents also need to monitor the amount of violence to which children are exposed.

"Violence is, in some ways, like a contagious disease," he said. "Kids get it from the adults and the culture around them and really taking a look at violence as entertainment. How do we show violence to our kids, and how can we get it out of their lives?"

For children who have gotten into trouble, Nation said, he thinks more intervention programs are needed that emphasize personal responsibility and life skills.

More information is online at peacelearningcenter.org.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - IN