The greatest challenge that the human race has ever faced still remains: to live in a world free of the threat of violence. Violence is not restricted to times of war; it exists everywhere: in homes, schools and communities. Where there is injustice, there is conflict.Conflict is generally classified in terms of both violent and nonviolent conflict. Violent conflict is generally associated as the use of force as a means to an end, while nonviolent conflict usually involves peaceful negotiation between conflicting groups or even mediation by an external (outside) group in order to work toward a compatible goal or resolution. Over time, nonviolent conflicts can erupt into direct force if a reasonable compromise is not reached.Much of the violence in our society stems from an oppressive social system of power that reinforces differences between groups and allows one group to have power or privilege over another group. Women, people of colour, gays and lesbians, religious minorities, the poor and working class, people with disabilities, and youth tend to factor into non-power groups. (This is not to say that these groups do not have strong will or exact power over others, but that they have limited institutional power.)Peace activists and researchers believe the urge to fight does not go away without addressing the main drivers of conflict: among them the quest for power. Conflict at the local and international level can stem from exploitation, poverty, corrupt governance, resource scarcity, and dehumanizing intolerant beliefs. As long as the global system relies on exploitive, oppressive and hierarchical relationships, there will be conflict. Another prevailing conflict theory says that conflict is inherent and constant, but when positively managed it can be a productive force.The study of peace and conflict explores the causes and factors that contribute to violence, including tensions within and between nations (commonly referred to as intra and interstate conflict), war, ethnic/cultural clashes, terrorism (domestic and foreign), militarism, and genocide. Peace and conflict studies also consider the conditions necessary to establish sustainable peace and development, while exploring the elements intrinsic to civil society. Through peacemaking, preventive diplomacy, and a host of other means, the United Nations along with a consortium of international organisations (usually called NGOs) work to prevent and resolve deadly conflict around the globe and to promote lasting peace in societies emerging from wars. “No task is more fundamental to the United Nations than the prevention and resolution of deadly conflict” said Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 2005.On a local level, many grassroots organizations work directly with their communities to counter conflict with prevention strategies through educational campaigns as well as support services for those recovering from violence. Whether individually or in a group, it is everyone’s responsibility to promote a culture of peace, and resolve differences without resorting to conflict. Topics explored in greater detail in this section are: peace-building, justice and punishment, youth violence, arms control, war children, and good governance.I'll write a little bit about youth violence so you can focus on this important issue.
“Violence is anything that denies human integrity and leads to hopelessness and helplessness.” (Martin Luther King Jr.)Interpersonal violence perpetrated by youth is a problem in every society. Youth violence can take many forms: bullying, gender and racial harassment, sexual assault/rape, gang violence, gun use, and ‘hate’ crimes. Some blame the mass media, particularly music, sports and video games, for glorifying violence and desensitizing its viewers; while others its our structural culture of violence, war and instability. Youth violence is disturbing because it can cause a lot of psychological damage to a person’s sense of self at a critical identity-forming time in one’s life. And youth who exhibit violent behaviors early will likely continue to act in destructive ways over the course of their adult life.Anti-violence activists, such as The Oakland Men’s Project believe that the power dynamics in society promote conflict, but also that the origins of violence in human development can be traced back to a child’s early interactions with adults. Children and youth who have been repeatedly put-down, neglected or abused, will internalize negative thoughts about themselves; those who experience domestic violence often accept violent behavior as the norm. For protection, the child puts up barriers, hurts him/herself, or hurts others, most often of a non-power group.Furthermore, gender socialization based on masculine/feminine ideas encourages aggressive and passive behaviors; boys learn to hide their emotions and take control of situations. Girls are socialized to obsess over their appearance and act in well-mannered ways. It is no wonder that 95% of all acts of violence in the United States are committed by boys and men.In order to transform violence into better conflict resolution, youth must have input on issues that concern them. As we all learn the origins and consequences of violence, we become better equipped to resist and prevent it in our own lives.