Long playing pivotal roles in the movement, youth and nonviolence and peace are inextricably wound together. From ancient history to modern times, from Gandhi and Dr. King’s young activists and beyond, young people have been employing nonviolence against oppression on the frontlines of social change in many ways.
If we are to reach real peace in this world… we shall have to begin with children.— Mahatma Gandhi
Ways Youth Engagement in Nonviolence and Peace happens
Youth as Community Organizers — Young people are organizing their communities to challenge a variety of issues – including Black Lives Matter, school reform, and community development – using nonviolent protest. They are also rallying against war through youth/adult partnerships and active campaigns targeting legislation and other areas.
Youth and Incarceration — Young people who are engaged in restorative justice programs in schools are changing the world through nonviolence and peace. After significant training and education, these children and youth lead their own processes and develop their own outcomes in response to issues.
Youth Rights — Working in federal congresses, state legislatures, provincial ministries, city halls and other political arenas around the world, young people are launching unprecedented nonviolent youth rights campaigns around the world. The Freechild Project has found there are more current movements for youth voice, Meaningful Student Involvement, youth suffrage and other issues right now than at any point in history.
Needs for Youth Engagement in Nonviolence and Peace
Education — Learning about nonviolence and peace is more than action-oriented training, although that’s part of it. Educational activities should also focus on history and give applied learning opportunities, as well as reflection and critical thinking about nonviolence and peace.
Youth/Adult Partnerships — In places that have violent social norms and / or systems that promote violence, adult allies can support youth directly throughout youth/adult partnerships. Focusing on mutual mentoring and other substantive, visible actions, these intentional relationships can create new social norms and foster powerful systems change supporting nonviolence.
Opportunities — Almost across the board, children and youth live daily violence no matter where they live. Sometimes that violence is physical and visual; other times its psychological and emotional. Young people need substantial opportunities to learn, live and grow nonviolence throughout their lives and communities.
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Other tools are out there, too – share your thoughts in the comments below! For more information about how The Freechild Project can support youth engagement in nonviolence and peace through your community or organization, contact us.