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Pauline Strong, Director HRC 3.360, Mailcode F1900, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-2654

Helping Our Teenagers Think About Violence and Peace

October 12 - War in Ancient Times: How the Greeks Taught Their Children About War - Tom Palaima, Professor of Classics

Ancient Greek society, like our own, was violent and frequently at war.  Like most societies, the Greeks had to devise ways to introduce their young men and women to what was expected of them when their communities were "at war," externally or internally. Until well into the 5th century the Greeks had nothing equivalent to our public system of education. They learned what we would call cultural behavior, values and morality through performances of song poems and dramas at public festivals.  Public entertainment is used in a similar way in our own society.

In this session we shall look at poems and songs that are central to the Greek tradition and the modern western tradition derived from it.  We shall use this as the basis for asking: What can we do better to educate our children in the ways and realities of war and violence?

October 19 - How America Thinks of War and How We Might Begin to Think About Peace-building - David Edwards, Professor of Government

In this session we'll be considering the often unquestioned attitudes widely shared by many Americans about war and peace, and we'll explore recent realizations and discoveries-some from the academic world, and some from other sources--about attitudes that have limited our beliefs about what is possible in world affairs and how to overcome those obstacles in order to make progress in peace-building.  We will discuss how these realizations and discoveries can be applied in our everyday lives as well as in our foreign relations.

October 26- Adolescent Gangs and Violence: Some Lessons from St. Louis - Barrik Van Winkle, author of Life in the Gangs

This session will focus on the central role that violence (or its threat) plays in motivating adolescents to join gangs, stay in them, and shape what they do as members.  We'll also discuss the roles that families and social institutions play in both fostering and preventing gang membership.  We will look at data from St. Louis as well as other studies of adolescent gangs. 

November 2-- How Parents Might Help Their Children Think About Violence in the Media - Kirsten Cather, Professor of Asian Studies

This session will consider violence in a variety of media - movies, TV, video games, rap songs, etc. - and its effects on youth. First, we will try to identify what we find objectionable and why: what kinds of stories and depictions bother us? And in what media - cartoons? live action films? photos? song lyrics? first-person shooter video games? By considering more closely how we as readers and spectators interpret works of art, we can boost our own media literacy and also help teach our children how to boost theirs so that they can become active interpreters and critics of texts. Second, we will consider the successes and failures of strategies adopted by censors over the ages to deal with this problem in an attempt to come up with helpful strategies for today's parents and teens.

November 9 - Preventing Youth Violence: The Efforts of the Council on At-Risk Youth - Adrian Moore, executive director, CARY 

This session will consist of two parts, one dealing with policy and another with the direct practice of conducting violence prevention training with groups of troubled and aggressive youth.  The section on youth violence prevention policy will review the impact and significance of school age youth violence in our community; the key predictors for determining which of our children and youth will engage in criminal behavior in the future; and the need for change in public policy funding priorities to focus more extensively on youth violence prevention, delinquency prevention, bully prevention and drug abuse prevention in our public schools. The second part of the session will review CARY's "evidence based" approach to youth violence prevention on a school campus.  

November 16 - How to Tell When Your Child Needs Special Help and How to Get It  - Gemma Marangoni Ainslie, psychologist-psychoanalyst

The adolescent social group functions as an arena for exploring experiences of self and others, and aids in the healthy developmental tasks of separating from and individuating from parents and family.  Schools offer opportunities for such developmental tasks to unfold, but they also are arenas in which distortions in the processes may proliferate - for example, bullying, gang formation, "mean girl" and "queen bee" phenomena.

In this session we will consider both healthy and problematic adolescent development. The focus will be on the necessary engagement with healthy aggression during adolescence, as well as ways in which aggression may become heightened or "snagged."  Contrasts between typical male and typical female modes of aggression will be considered.

Course and Registration Information: This free, informal course will meet on Tuesday evenings, October 12 through November 16, from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m.  The sessions will be held at the Community Engagement Center, 1009 East 11th Street.  Those who wish to reserve a place in the course should call Paula Kothmann at 471-9056 or email

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