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The Legacy of Violence and a Healing Curriculum for Children and Their Families.

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Annie Abram PhD

Annie Abram PhD

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Today, Annie Abram and Erin Forgay will discuss violence, using a new paradigm that challenges traditional perspectives about teaching young children how to cope with violent times. The troubles in Ireland (1969 - 1994) will serve as a background.

We often hear: "she/he is a child of two years. She won't possibly remember." However, the latest brain research and the behavior of children, who have experienced violence (war, family violence, media, long term cultural, religious conflicts) tells us a different story. Even if a child does not actually witness violence, the psychological environment in homes and communities, profoundly affects children's psyches and ways of viewing the world. If a grandparent was physically injured during war times and can not walk, a young child can make meaning of the situation in order to have some way of understanding. In many families explanations are vague and confusing. Helping children process trauma at their developmental level is essential. Otherwise, the trauma is transmitted from generation to generation. We all need the language to talk about our fears and concerns.

Under the guidance of Diane Levin, Erin and a group of Wheelock students traveled to Northern Ireland to work with Early Years’ Media Initiative. Through this program, the Wheelock students explored the conflicts of the area and the effects on young children. Using persona puppets and dolls, the program is geared towards teaching young children how to respect differences and to promote peace.