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Five Steps to Break the Cycle of Violence

Step 1: Prepare for and take the Family Pledge of Nonviolence

1.  Read the Families Creating a Circle of Peace booklet or any of the articles written for individuals, families, and faith communities on the Pledge.  Click on Families and on any of the articles listed under “Living the Pledge of Nonviolence.”

2.  As a family (whatever group of people you live or relate most closely with), study the Pledge of Nonviolence and discuss what parts of it will be most challenging for each person. Have as many discussions as you need until each member is ready to sign the Pledge.  Children ages 6 to 10 might use the Kids Creating Circles of Peace workbook to explore how they can put the Pledge into practice outside the home as well.

3.  If possible, find at least one other family with whom to discuss the Pledge, or get your own faith community or other interested group to invite other families to discuss the Pledge and how to live it.

4.  Take the Pledge as a family, hopefully with these other families, in some kind of ritual which could include “The Pebbles of Love” and/or suggestions in Families Creating a Circle of Peace.  Christian families or groups might also use “The Prayer Service on the Nonviolence of Jesus”.

Step 2: Support one another in living the Pledge

1. Post the Pledge in a prominent place in your home, e.g., refrigerator magnet and/or a framed Pledge, and at least once a month meet with other family members to recite the Pledge and discuss progress in living out the Pledge and what your next step(s) will be.

2. Find a “partner family” or join or form a small family support group and meet regularly for a similar review and to discuss how you might best support one another.  For specific suggestions, click on “Guidelines for Family Support Groups”

3. Use A Call to Peace: 52 Meditations on the Family Pledge of Nonviolence for regular inspiration and suggestions for living the Pledge more fully from a faith perspective. 

4. Use the Circles of Hope, Circles of Peace process and materials (leader’s booklet and participants’ workbook) to empower parents to work together to deal with violence in their lives; especially helpful for low-income families.

5. Get your faith community and/or other faith communities and groups to offer special evenings, day-long programs, and/or a family camp on the Pledge components; the Alternatives to Violence Kit for Churches in English and Spanish are designed to facilitate such programs.

6.  Encourage your school to integrate the Classroom, School, or Youth Pledge of Nonviolence into the curriculum, with the Alternatives to Violence Kits for Public Schools, K-5; the Christian Education & Schools Kit, K-8; and the Christian High School & Youth Group Planning Guide and Teachers Manual as the key resources for doing so.

Step 3: Spread the Pledge

1. Take these resources on the Pledge to your own faith community, other faith communities, organizations and schools with which you are connected.

2. Take the Family Pledge to your pediatrician, internist, and/or clinic; to family service agencies; to parent education programs; to your Head Start program or Parent-Teacher Organization; to local gatherings around Dr. King’s birthday, Earth Day, Children’s Sabbath; to family, community, and county fairs, etc.

3.  Take the Prison Pledge of Nonviolence to those who work with incarcerated youth and adults in your community.  See the Summer 2001 Newsletter – The Pledge of Nonviolence Spreads to Prisons and the Violent Offender Program and its booklet AMAZING GRACE: The Story of the VOP.

Step 4: Help reduce violence in your own community.

1. To promote more peaceful relationships within families, work to get faith communities to offer at least one parenting program annually.

2. To counter media violence, write letters to the editor of your local newspaper(s) about positive hopeful events in your community; call your local TV stations about violent programming and excessive concern about violent events on local newscasts; to increase media literacy, use the resources of the Center for Media Literacy (4727Wilshire Blvd., Suite 403, Los Angeles, CA 90010; 213-931-4177; E-mail: cml@earthlink.net).  See also the May 2001 Newsletter – Media Violence that Affects Our Children's Lives.

3. To help counter violence in the schools, volunteer as a mentor; encourage your principals and/or superintendent to offer conflict resolution and peer mediation programs in your schools.  In addition to the Alternatives to Violence Kits for Public Schools, Christian Education & Schools, K-8, and Christian High Schools & Youth Groups, you might contact Educators for Social Responsibility (www.esrnational.org; 1-800-370-2515) and the Creative Response to Conflict program (www.crc-ny.org; 845-353-1796) have excellent resources for all grade levels.

4. To counter gun violence and its deadly results, you can support state and local ordinances to curb handguns and increase safety, as well as participate in marches and other neighborhood initiatives to take back our streets and in prayer vigils to mourn the victims of such violence.  See Some Easy Steps You Can Take to Prevent Gun Violence (from the Advocacy Resource Packet on Gun Violence Prevention).   See also Families Creating a Circle of Peace, pp. 29-32.

5. To counter the violence of poverty, work with local and state efforts to limit the negative impact of recent welfare cuts, as well as look for opportunities to work with one other family struggling against poverty. 

6.  To counter domestic and hate violence, challenge verbal or physical abuse, support efforts at diversity training/curricula, volunteer at a shelter or hot-line, participate in and/or help start dialogue groups and community projects bringing people together across their differences, encourage faith communities to address these issues.

For more on hate violence, see the Spring 2002 Newsletter - What Is Hate Violence? And especially 10 Ways to Stop Hate (from the Southern Poverty Law Center).

For more on domestic violence, see the Fall 2001 Newsletter - Domestic Violence and  Ten Steps Religious Communities Can Take to Prevent Family Violence (from the Advocacy Resource Packet on Domestic Violence).

Step 5: Work with FAVAN collaborating organizations promoting policy changes at the national level (Click on Advocacy for current action suggestions)

1. On the violence of poverty, read the action alerts of the Children’s Defense Fund (www.childrensdefense.org; 800-CDF-1200) and support their legislative efforts; also join Sojourners’ National Call to Renewal campaign (www.sojo.net; 202-328-8745).

2. On gun violence, support the legislative efforts of groups like the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence (www.bradycampaign.org; 202-898-0792).

3. On violence in the media, contact the Lion and Lamb Project (www.lionlamb.org) for action suggestions in video games as well as TV; also the Parents Television Council (www.parentstv.org) for action against profanity and sex as well as violence on TV.

4. On violence in schools, participate in the Week Without Violence sponsored each October by the YWCA (www.ywca.org; 800-992-2871) and encourage schools to use that week as a way of highlighting efforts to introduce or strengthen conflict resolution and peer mediation programs in schools.  For a longer focus on nonviolence in schools, participate in the annual Season for Nonviolence, January 30 – April 4 (www.agnt.org; 805-962-9492).  Click on Classroom Activities for Teaching the School and Youth Pledge of Nonviolence for sample lesson plans and more about the Season for Nonviolence.

5. On domestic violence, use the resources of the Faith Trust Institute, formerly the Center for the Prevention of Sexual and Domestic Violence (www.faithtrustinstitute.org; 206-634-1903) to bring this issue to community groups and faith communities; for advocacy, contact the public policy component of the Family Violence Prevention Center (www.endabuse.org; 800-595-4889)

6. On hate violence, participate in programs/actions organized by groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center, its 10 Ways to Stop Hate, and its TEACHING TOLERANCE magazine (www.tolerance.org/teach).  See also  P-FLAG (www.pflag.org); the NAACP (www.naacp.org) and the Anti-Defamation League (http://adl.org/adl.asp).