Saturday, November 19, 2011

Teaching children about the costs of violence and war.

There are many ways to teach children about the costs of violence and war, but it is an effort that parents usually must make on their own, as public schools, funded by the governments which wage war, are not encouraged to engage in critical thinking about the conventional wisdom on violence.

The best way to study the costs of violence and war is by outlining the diverse types of costs for these activities and then devoting individual time to each type. For parents seeking such an outline, here is a beginning. Please feel free to add (through comments) additional resources.

War and state-sponsored violence cost money. Since money is not in endless supply, money spent on war is money not spent on other things, like Social Security, Medicaid, and other elements of the federal budget.

War and state-sponsored violence provide legal justifications for the killing of other human beings, both the innocent and the "guilty". War often encourages citizens to nourish anger and hatred towards entire groups of human beings. Many innocent people are harmed in the process.
  • Explore how a Liberian woman has been affected by ongoing wars in her country. 
  • Learn how to keep anger under control so that it does not tear apart your family or community with this printable lesson.
  • War and violence often distance us from fellow humans in the name of "difference" and judgement. Learn how to love and respect human diversity with this printable lesson.
  • War destroys nature as well as human homes and cities. Cultivate a respect for the natural world with this printable lesson plan.
  • Families are destroyed by war every day. Look at Iraq Body Count to see how many families have been torn apart or suffered from this recent war.

War and state-sponsored violence often call upon us to ignore our ethical and religious commitments. This can cause spiritual trauma and distress for both soldiers and the innocent victims of war and violence.
  • Discuss the spiritual and emotional costs of war by exploring the online art exhibit, Windows and Mirrors, which reveals the struggles of the people and soldiers in Afghanistan.
  • For Christians, peace is the presence of God. What does this mean in terms of our faith?
  • Learn how the recent war in Iraq has traumatized American soldiers by reading their stories. Also find out how noncombatants are helping spiritually-wounded soldiers recover their lives and faith.
  • Think about a soldier's heart. Write about how it must feel to kill a fellow human being. How can you share love and support with soldiers and veterans in a way that does not encourage spiritual trauma?

War and state-sponsored violence reveal a model of "justice for the victors" which institutionalizes an unfair and unjust conception of right and wrong. For example, if one country kills millions of civilians during a war but then wins the war, it will not be forced to account for its crimes in an international court of law. Only the losing countries will be required to account for their crimes and make reparations. The goal of reducing civilian casualties becomes less important than the overall goal of winning the war at all costs.

In addition to this model, you can explore an ethic of peace a little more deeply with the following resources:


  1. Hello Alina,

    Thanks for your update!

    Here is a link for those wanting to teach Peace in a school setting... I have documentation on the source material and the the written course...


    John Cooper

  2. Actually, I forgot the link to Coleman McCarthy's YouTube video...Here it is:

    John Cooper

  3. Glad you liked my post about the venn diagram. Thanks for commenting.
    Lori @ Cachey Mama’s Classroom

  4. Nice post.
    The links in the side bar Muslim peace fellowship is no good/not a site
    The Muslims for peace while still working is not a site that would be considered Muslim by any Muslim. Muslims are awaiting the return of Jesus like the Christians. And like in the Bible there will be Peace after his return. I would not find teachings of the Qur'an from this site credible.
    Answering Islam has many old and broken links and no Qu'ran to read for the reader. Like the Bible the reader must READ the Qur'an not be told what it is about. This is where innovation and fable come about.
    Peace, Salaam

  5. Please share better links. I would like to add them and update.