Priniciples of Non-Violence: Altering Attitudes and Behaviors of High School Students Regarding Violence and Social Justice
Harris-Muchell, Carolyn D.
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Session presented on Thursday, July 21, 2016: Purpose: The purpose of the study was to begin the process of empowering students to become the next generation of leaders for social change and healing, through using non-violence and social justice to dismantle racism and oppression. It is hypothesized that high school students from varying ethnic, religious, education levels and socioeconomic status will be transformed and demonstrate an increased sense of empowerment to affect change and help others; increased self-confidence and/or self-esteem; an increased belief in their capabilities to successfully engage in rigorous academic work; and a heightened understanding of America's diverse cultures and skewed history. Students were encouraged to verbalize a readiness to accept, celebrate and defend individual and group differences, while acknowledging that United States' (US) history has to be written to be inclusive of those who have been voiceless and powerless for decades. The intervention seeks to motivate students, specifically disenfranchised youth to accomplish personal success and develop a sense of civic responsibility. Methods: A correlational research design was used, involving data analysis of a pre-and post-intervention survey. The intervention utilized to engage youth was through a seven day classroom immersion journey into several states of the American South; a mobile classroom, interactive presentations by activist of the Civil Rights Movement; an anti-racism/social justice work shop and the development of a direct action plan to be implemented upon retuRNo school sites. Results: In general students who participate in the 7 day mobile classroom experience, after the introductory ninety minute presentation, focusing on the Six Principles of NonViolence and the lessons of the 1960's United States Civil Rights Movement identified a change in attitudes, and acknowledged to engage in behaviors which would promote social justice and human rights in their schools. Conclusion: After being immersed in a seven day education experience students continued to engage in behaviors which promoted social justice and human rights (e.g. decrease in racial, sexual, gender and sexual orientation slurs, discouraged verbal bullying and exclusion of others) up to twelve months after the experience.