Paz Escolar is an innovative program based on the emotional development of elementary school students, which promotes the peaceful resolution of conflicts to decrease violence in schools premises and classrooms.
The program was created in the 1980s and has been implemented in the North American elementary classroom successfully for over 25 years; it teaches children aged 3 to 11 social abilities and emotional values needed to prevent conflict. Paz Escolar offers a strong training program for teachers and school administrators, who learn to integrate the content to their existing curriculum.
In March 2011, a survey was carried out in three elementary schools of Lima located in at-risk neighborhoods: 138 third-grade students and 7 teachers participated in the survey:
• 11% of students who participated stated that there was violence perpetrated by children of the same classroom,
• 23% report abuse of students from another classroom,
• 44% report violence in their school,
• 44% of the attackers target students younger in age,
• 81% of students ask for help to their teacher of a school administrator,
• 5 of the 7 teachers interviewed confirm violence in the school,
• 2 teachers admitted that there is violence within their classroom.
SCHOOL VIOLENCE, OR BULLYING
Aggression of one or more students towards one of their peers has been the source of extensive research, and the pattern is usually as follows:
uses several techniques of intimidation, humiliation and aggression towards one or several class or school peers. Factors causing the change of behavior may vary but it is difficult to anticipate such change.
suffers the aggression from one or several aggressors, and usually does not react due to fear or inability to face the aggressor. Risk factors may vary, but in all cases, psychological consequences can include trauma, lack of sleep, inability to focus, fear, etc.
usually stays quiet and does not interfere, but witness the whole event, and tends to take sides either with the aggressor or the target.
The aggressive behavior starts early in the elementary classroom, as early as first grade: the event is called “all against all”, in which the kids’ intention is to mark their territory in front of their peers.
A pilot program was carried out in the fall 2011 in Lima, Peru. During the twelve weeks of the pilot, teachers and staff participated in workshops to learn techniques of conflict resolution to prevent the use of violence. Teachers integrated Paz Escolar’s materials into their curriculum, introducing students to social emotional values, promoting individual development and self esteem, tolerance, respect and equality. The school community also had the opportunity to participate in workshops organized for parents in agreement with school’s principals.
Results of the pilot program
The short duration of the pilot did not allow to collect quantitative data; however, interviews of staff and teachers who participated in the program revealed that Paz Escolar was highly needed in pre-school and elementary schools, to eradicate the high incidence of violence between teachers and their students, or students among themselves.
The evaluation process was based on a questionnaire given to staff, teachers and students, to better understand the acquisition of new values and techniques, and how those changes affect behaviors in the classroom.
Paz Escolar’s mission is to support teachers in their task of teaching social and emotional skills for students attending preschool and elementary school, to improve their self-esteem and teach them how to prevent from using violence. To succeed in its mission, Paz Escolar offers a comprehensive training program for teachers, administrators and school directors, to facilitate learning with the support of a wide range of materials, including connections to literature. Parents are invited to participate in educational workshops to better understand the content of material their children learn.