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The Schools of Peace for Adolescents

The Schools of Peace for adolescents are focused on the needs of children in their early teens, who are still frail but at the same time are searching for greater independence.

The main characteristic of the Schools of Peace is their emphasis on listening to the adolescents themselves, who need a genuine and a trustworthy educational environment, and to respond to that need. Too often young people grow up in an educational vacuum that is filled only by television and computer video games. This is true for younger children, but for the adolescents especially it threatens to cause permanent damage, leaving them without any dreams and ideals beyond those of consumerism and placing them at risk of deviancy and criminality.


Children in their early teens need to spend time with their peers, but more and more often, we see news stories of about youth gangs who spend their time together committing acts of violence. Gangs were once thought to reflect the influence of poverty and deprivation, but it is now clear that even in the upper classes young people develop in a setting that emphasises and even champions physical aggression, violence, and the abuse of the weak by the strong.


In response to such circumstances, the School of Peace for adolescents doesn't merely offer individual tutoring and academic help. It is also meant to educate and socialise adolescents, by acknowledging their need to be with others in their 'peer group', a need typical of people their age. Our approach encouraged these adolescents to understand the wider world around them, so as to overcome the narrow, closed and sometimes intolerant culture that often stifles their promise. At the same time , they are shown how to identify the damage caused by violence, oppression and war. Ideally, they learn about the world and gain the aspiration to make it more humane and just.


Over the years, the Community's experience in educating adolescence had prompted many initiatives aimed at fostering a deeper knowledge of the world, its history, and its problems. In some schools, for example, the study of the Jewish Holocaust during the Second World War gave rise to 'Anne Frank Groups,' in which young people have organised meetings and workshops in their schools, involving thousands more young people in discussions about the folly of genocide and of racial intolerance generally.


Racism, war and peace, the gap between the Northern and Southern hemispheres: through the Schools of Peace, consideration of these issues has become part of the personal experience of our adolescents. Whenever possible, the Community has taken up these themes through personal witness, firsthand testimony, and one-on-one encounters, so as to touch the adolescents' lives directly.


In particular, adolescents are encouraged to get to know and love the elderly, whose lives can seem so remote from their own. Often the seemingly great gap between young people and the old people leads to misunderstanding, sheer incomprehension, and even violence directed against the elderly. The People's Schools teach adolescents that old age is part of human life and that it is possible, to defend, support and even become friends with the elderly. The adolescents learn to put this into practice, through meetings and parties with the elderly, which help to reconcile the different generations to each other.


Motivated by the need to respect human life and to make human life respected, the young people in the Schools of Peace for adolescents are currently involved in collecting signatures for a moratorium on capital punishment. These young people have become promoters of this cause among their peers, and have passed on their new sensitivity on the issue to many others.

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