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Peacemakers Program

Ages 9-14

Rating: Level 2


The Peacemakers Program is a school-based violence reduction intervention for grades 4 through 8. The program content is based on studies of psychosocial variables associated with individual differences in aggression and on existing interventions proven to be effective, and is influenced by social and developmental psychology research. Peacemakers consists of a 17-lesson curriculum for teachers and a remediation component for school psychologists and counselors for students referred for aggressive behavior. Each lesson takes 45 minutes to conduct and addresses beliefs supporting the acceptability and utility of violent behavior and deficits in conflict-related psychosocial skills. There are a variety of classroom activities including didactic instruction, discussion, use of the Socratic method, role-plays, and experiential exercises. Emphasis is placed on infusing program content into students’ everyday lives by helping them recognize potentially problematic situations and then recall what they have learned in the program. The goal is to have the principles and strategies of the program become a part of the culture at the school.

The intervention begins with several sessions on violence-related attitudes, values, and self-concept issues. Students are taught the Golden Rule (to treat others as you wish to be treated). The purpose of these sessions is to increase the attractiveness of nonviolent behavior and to strengthen student motivation to learn the psychosocial skills taught in the rest of the curriculum. Techniques are taught to reduce impulsivity, strengthen self-regulation of emotions, increase participants’ sensitivity to the effect their behavior has on other people, and to strengthen consequential thinking and flexibility of response to interpersonal problems. Students are instructed how to avoid conflicts before they begin, how to stand up for themselves without pushing others around, and how to improve their communication skills.


Peacemakers was evaluated using a quasi-experimental pretest–posttest research design. Three middle schools and the fourth and fifth grades of three elementary schools in a large, Midwestern, urban public school system took part in the study. One middle school and one elementary school served as the control group; this was 29 percent of the study sample. The two groups did not differ in age or gender, but did differ in ethnicity. Half of the total sample was female, 88 percent was African-American, 8 percent was white, 1 percent was Hispanic, and 3 percent was “other.” The sample was 14 percent fourth graders, 14 percent fifth graders, 23 percent sixth graders, 27 percent seventh graders, and 22 percent eighth graders. The program took place over the 1st semester of the school year. Posttest data was collected during the beginning of the 2nd semester. Three violence-related constructs were assessed through student self-report measures: knowledge of psychosocial skills, attitudes toward guns and violence, and aggressive behavior. Teachers completed behavioral observational scales as a second measure of students’ aggressive behavior. Of the 1,822 students who filled out pretests, data was analyzed on the 672 students who also filled out valid posttests.


The evaluation found that the program results in positive changes in six of the seven aggression-related variables examined when comparing the treatment and control groups: psychosocial skills, self-reported aggressive behavior, teacher-reported aggressive behavior, and the numbers of aggression-related disciplinary incidents, times conflict mediation services were used, and suspensions for violent behavior. The aggressive behavior checklist showed that the intervention had a stronger effect on boys than girls and middle school students compared with elementary students. The intervention’s suspension-reducing effect was greater for middle school students than elementary school students. It was also found that the program had a stronger influence on the level of boys’ versus girls’ participation in mediation services.

Risk Factors


  • Anti-social behavior and alienation/Delinquent beliefs/General delinquency involvement/Drug dealing
  • Early onset of aggression and/or violence
  • Lack of guilt and empathy
  • Poor refusal skills


  • School suspensions

Protective Factors


  • Healthy / Conventional beliefs and clear standards
  • High expectations
  • Self-efficacy
  • Social competencies and problem-solving skills


  • Department of Education


Shapiro, Jeremy P., Joella D. Burgoon, Carolyn J. Welker, and Joseph B. Clough. 2002. “Evaluation of the Peacemakers Program: School-Based Violence Prevention for Students in Grades 4 Through 8.” Psychology in the Schools 39(1):87–100.


Jeremy Shapiro, Ph.D.
2669 Belvoir Boulevard
Shaker Heights, OH 44122
Phone: (216) 292-2710

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