The Resolving Conflict Creatively Program (RCCP) is a universal, school-based intervention that focuses on character education and social and emotional learning. RCCP aims to teach children self-management, cooperation, and problem-solving skills and promote interpersonal effectiveness and intercultural understanding. Specific program objectives include (1) reducing violence and violence-related behavior, (2) promoting caring and cooperative behavior, (3) teaching students about life skills in conflict resolution and intercultural understanding, and (4) promoting a positive climate for learning in the classroom and school.
First developed as an initiative of the New York City public schools and Educators for Social Responsibility Metropolitan Area (now Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility), RCCP is characterized by a comprehensive, multiyear strategy for preventing violence and creating caring communities of learning to improve school success for all children. The intervention has two major components: (1) training and coaching of teachers to support them in implementing a curriculum in conflict resolution and intergroup understanding, and (2) delivery of that curriculum in classroom instruction for children provided by the trained teachers.
Childhood risk factors for becoming violent offenders are frequently experienced before adolescence and may include conduct problems, violence exposure, and social–cognitive processes (Aber, Jones, and Brown 2003). RCCP is based on the notion that early intervention strategies when children are forming patterns of behaviors and attitudes can mediate or reduce children’s risk for future development of aggressive, antisocial, or violent behavior.
Research also indicates that such behaviors are affected by such experiences as history of harsh parenting, failure to succeed in schools, or deviant peer environments where violence is normative, all of which increase the probability of aggression and violence by children. These potential causal mechanisms link early exposure to ecological risk with future developmental outcomes of aggression and violence (Aber, et al. 2003). As such, RCCP draws on developmental theory and research on patterns of youth violence and antisocial attitudes to help project children’s developmental trajectories or risk factors that can be identified and influenced. RCCP also incorporates components of social learning theory by using methods and skillsets that rely on observation and modeling to influence children’s behavior.
RCCP is taught by teachers who receive training from RCCP staff, including a 25-hour introductory training and ongoing coaching to support program implementation. A teacher’s role in the lessons is to facilitate student-directed discussions and learning. School administrators and peer mediators may also be involved in program implementation.
RCCP is structured into 51 lessons tailored to be developmentally appropriate for a given age group. The RCCP curriculum aims to develop several core skills, such as countering bias, resolving conflicts, fostering cooperation, appreciating diversity, communicating clearly, expressing feelings, and dealing with anger. The lessons are organized into skill units, structured in workshop format, and designed to last from 30 minutes to 1 hour. Students are taught active listening, assertiveness, negotiation, and problem solving through such methods as role playing, interviewing, small group discussions, and brainstorming.
RCCP also helps staff to establish peer-mediation programs, parent training workshops, and other school-wide initiatives that build student leadership in conflict resolution and intergroup relations. Schools can choose to incorporate other components of RCCP, including Peace in the Family workshops for parents that have an option of preparing them to become workshop leaders, and training for paraprofessionals, bus drivers, and security staff to help them learn skills they can use in their roles to contribute to a positive school culture.