Margaret Koren, a longtime activist and Windsor resident, made it clear that the movement for world peace is alive and well, more vibrant than ever, in her presentation at the Windsor Democratic Club on May 26. Ms. Koren works with the Peace Alliance, a national non-profit whose mission is to “empower civic engagement toward the culture of peace.” The organization advocates for bringing conflict resolution education into classrooms to reduce bullying, supports community programs to end gang violence, and works to expand the use of restorative justice practices, as well as instituting peacebuilding practices to avert violence and war in international hot spots.
Ms. Koren highlighted two bills that have been introduced in the U.S. Congress:
- The Youth Promise Act sets up community systems addressing youth violence. Funding is provided for programs to save lives and increase opportunities for youth. Evidence shows that prevention and intervention saves lives and money, while being more effective than traditional punitive methods. The bill was introduced by two Republicans and two Democrats.
- R. 111, the Department of Peacebuilding Act of 2015, has bipartisan support, with thirty-seven co-sponsors. The bill addresses ways to reduce violence at home and abroad, looking at areas ranging from child abuse to international genocide.
Ms. Koren also highlighted the positive results of the increased use of restorative justice practices in Santa Rosa City schools over the last few years. The school system began the use of restorative practices as a model program in hopes of reducing the alarming increase of student suspensions in city schools, because of the realization that suspensions did little to change the behavior of student offenders. Restorative methods, which establish a dialogue between all parties involved in an incident, had such positive results that the Santa Rosa school board created eleven permanent positions for restorative practice personnel. Suspension rates have decreased so dramatically that the board enthusiastically is working towards further expanding the program.
To find out more about the work of The Peace Alliance, visit their website – www.peacealliance.org.