Shootings at Columbine, at Virginia Tech and at so many other schools these days are the far end of a violence continuum. The other night I went to an information session in Cleveland about how to short circuit some of this violence. And more, how to teach youth healthy coping skills in general. Morris Ervin, from the Los Angeles area, is a teacher who stresses non-violent approaches and he has been featured in several documentaries. He works with Black and Latino gang members in L.A. He said a key is to create safe venues for, not only dialogue, but the healthy expression of feelings. And Ervin stressed it’s essential, when possible, for this to begin at home… This evening there were also students from instructor Kathleen McDonell’s peer support group at Euclid High School. Each shared how learning about “non-violent communication” and processing feelings in general have helped them. One youth, who was rather large in stature, said he had a lot of problems at home. Consequently, he’d take his anger out on the football field or with his peers. “I was mean,” he lamented. But after getting involved with Ms. McDonell’s group, he said he learned to open up about his feelings and be more empathetic towards others having problems as well. As a result, he said he’s become a lot more relaxed, friendlier and is now a volunteer peer mediator when conflicts come up at his school. Note: Several years ago, I researched the “Ulster Project.” Host families in the U.S. would take in one Catholic youth and one Protestant youth from Northern Ireland for a year. The intent was to break down prejudices, to break down hate and create hope for peace in the next generation. After hearing the tremendous changes these Euclid High School students had gone through in their own journey towards “peace,” I couldn’t help but think there is, indeed, hope yet for this world. Note 2: Our administration would propose a U.S. Department of Peace that would rely on such consultants as Ms. McDonell and Mr. Ervin to ramp up non-violence efforts in schools across the country.