Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Pathways to Peace

Pathways to Peace: The Transformative Power of Children and Families

James F. Leckman
Catherine Panter-Brick
Rima Salah
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: MIT Press
Pages: 480
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Pathways to Peace
    Book Description:

    Can more peaceful childhoods promote a culture of peace? Increasing evidence from a broad range of disciplines shows that how we raise our children affects the propensity for conflict and the potential for peace within a given community. In this book, experts from a range of disciplines examine the biological and social underpinnings of child development and the importance of strengthening families to build harmonious and equitable relations across generations. They explore the relevance to the pursuit of peace in the world, highlight directions for future research, and propose novel approaches to translate knowledge into concrete action.The contributors describe findings from research in biology, neuroscience, evolution, genetics, and psychology. They report empirical evidence on children living in violent conditions, resilience in youth, and successful interventions. Their contributions show that the creation of sustainable partnerships with government agencies, community leaders, policy makers, funders, and service providers is a key ingredient for success. Taken together, they suggest possible novel approaches to translate knowledge into concrete action.

    eISBN: 978-0-262-32118-1
    Subjects: Psychology, Health Sciences

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. The Ernst Strüngmann Forum
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Julia Lupp
  4. List of Contributors
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. Foreword: The Culture of Peace
    (pp. xiii-xx)
    Anwarul K. Chowdhury

    In 1945, after two world wars had exacted a devastating toll on humanity during the first half of the twentieth century, the combined will of 51 countries established an intergovernmental organization in an effort to spare future generations from the scourge of war. The United Nations was established “to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small; to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be...

  6. Foundations for a New Approach

    • 1 Peace Is a Lifelong Process: The Importance of Partnerships
      (pp. 3-18)
      James F. Leckman, Catherine Panter-Brick and Rima Salah

      In 2013, the Ernst Strüngmann Forum convened a think tank to review a premise that has fascinating implications for research, practice, and policy: Do the ways we raise children hold promise for promoting peace in the world? The idea behind this Forum began to form in the spring of 2010, when James Leckman met with the Mother Child Education Foundation, known as AÇEV (Anne Çocuk Eğitim Vakfi), in Istanbul, Turkey. AÇEV wished to learn more about the biobehavioral systems involved in the formation of interpersonal bonds between parents and their offspring, and to receive a candid appraisal of their concept...

    • 2 Framing Our Analysis: A Dialectical Perspective
      (pp. 19-26)
      Robert A. Hinde and Joan Stevenson-Hinde

      This chapter provides a dialectical framework for integrating various levels of analysis in this book. Although a particular chapter may focus on only one or two levels, each level may be understood within the broader context of the framework as a whole.

      As an example, at the level of early relationships, the development and implications of a secure attachment bond will be outlined. Consistent with the thrust of this volume, the emphasis within attachment theory and research is on a “bottom-up” approach. However, as Figure 2.1 illustrates, “top-down” influences will also be operating, including those of context. It is not...

    • 3 Ecology of Peace
      (pp. 27-40)
      Pia R. Britto, Ilanit Gordon, William Hodges, Diane Sunar, Cigdem Kagitcibasi and James F. Leckman

      Scientific evidence in the field of early childhood development has demonstrated that the early years of life are crucial for all aspects of adult functioning, including competencies, attitudes, and skills (Britto et al. 2013; Steele et al., this volume). For example, Duncan et al. (1998) concluded that the effect of poverty on cognitive skills and educational attainment is greatest in early childhood. In contrast, child abuse, neglect, and psychosocial deprivation have been shown to have profound negative impacts on all aspects of socioemotional and cognitive development (Nelson et al. 2007; Fox et al., this volume). Thus, the nature and quality...

  7. Human Biological Development

    • 4 Peptide Pathways to Peace
      (pp. 43-64)
      C. Sue Carter and Stephen W. Porges

      Since the end of the Second World War, 248 armed conflicts have been active in 153 locations worldwide (Themner and Wallensteen 2012). The current civil conflict in Syria provides a snapshot of the effects of an unsafe environment, which may be particularly disastrous for children. For example, on August 23, 2013, the number of children registered as refugees from Syria hit the one million mark. Child psychologist Dante Cicchetti (2013:403–404) summarizes the lasting implications of maltreatment for early child development as follows:

      Child maltreatment constitutes a severe, if not the most severe, environmental hazard to children’s adaptive and healthy...

    • 5 Epigenetics: Significance of the Gene-Environment Interface for Brain Development
      (pp. 65-78)
      Eric B. Keverne

      The impact of our environment may have effects across generations, effects that are difficult to explain through Mendelian inheritance. Recent work has focused on epigenetics as a possible mechanism for gene-environment interactions (Szyf 2013b). Epigenetics is underpinned by the noncoding regions of DNA that regulate the timing and tissue specific regulation of gene expression. In this way, a single cell (fertilized egg) can develop into many different cell types which possess identical genomes. Epigenetics provides the code for gene expression, which not only differs in different cell types but also across different individuals and, in the brain, it even provides...

    • 6 Group Identity as an Obstacle and Catalyst of Peace
      (pp. 79-92)
      Douglas P. Fry

      Group identification does not, in and of itself, lead to war. However, in times of conflict, the psychological states that accompany group identity can feed hostility and facilitate intergroup violence. Once con flict intensifies, a group can come to hold an increasingly negative image of another group, eventually dehumanizing its members and excluding them from the realm of moral obligation (Deutsch 2006b; Konner 2006; Staub 1989). These processes can provide a justification for violence (Staub 1989). Indigenous peoples, for example, have often been delegitimized and dehumanized as “savages” in order to rationalize brutality toward them (Miklikowska and Fry 2010).


    • 7 Human Biological Development and Peace: Genes, Brains, Safety, and Justice
      (pp. 95-128)
      Barak Morgan, Diane Sunar, C. Sue Carter, James F. Leckman, Douglas P. Fry, Eric B. Keverne, Iris-Tatjana Kolassa, Robert Kumsta and David Olds

      Peace can be defined as a positive, dynamic participatory process or a condition in which every person has the opportunity to develop to his or her fullest potential (Kagitcibasi and Britto, this volume). It can also be defined as a condition ofsafetyfor individuals or groups. Its opposite may be conceived asthreat,which can take the form of direct conflict and violence or of structural violence (i.e., deprivation or social inequality and injustice), which can interfere with equal opportunities for human development.

      In this chapter, we refer to the process of reducing direct violence as peacemaking and...

  8. Early Childhood Events and Relationships

    • 8 Comparative and Evolutionary Perspectives
      (pp. 131-144)
      Dario Maestripieri

      Drawing from evolutionary theory and data from comparative research with nonhuman animals, this chapter examines (a) human tendencies for aggressiveness and peacefulness in relation to other animal species, (b) individual differences in aggressive or peaceful tendencies, and (c) the role that events and relationships early in life play in the development of aggressive and peaceful tendencies. An evolutionary perspective helps us understand aggressiveness and peacefulness from a functional perspective (see also van IJzendoorn and Bakermans-Kranenburg, this volume); comparative animal research can highlight some general principles governing human development and shed light on the possible biological and environmental mechanisms underlying the...

    • 9 The Problem of Institutionalization of Young Children and Its Consequences for Efforts to Build Peaceful Societies
      (pp. 145-160)
      Nathan A. Fox, Charles A. Nelson and Charles H. Zeanah

      UNICEF has estimated that over 8 million children live in some form of institutional care around the world. For many years, psychologists have known of deleterious effects on cognitive and social behavior in children who have undergone early institutional experience. Thus, the large number of children living in these circumstances reflects a worldwide public health problem. We know that the foundation for a successful society and the source of peace among communities is built in the period of early childhood (see Abu-Nimer and Nasser, this volume). The foundation of healthy child development results in educational achievement, economic productivity, responsible citizenship,...

    • 10 Prosocial Development and Situational Morality: Neurobiological, Parental, and Contextual Factors
      (pp. 161-182)
      Marinus H. van IJzendoorn and Marian J. Bakermans-Kranenburg

      Do neurobiological, parental, and situational factors shape children’s prosocial behavior, and, if so, how? Prosocial behavior can provisionally be defined as any (voluntary) behavior intended to benefit others, with or without costs for the agent. Prosociality may include at least the following four categories of behavior (derived from Warneken and Tomasello 2009a; Eisenberg and Fabes 1998):

      1. Comforting: providing emotional support to others in distress or pain.

      2. Sharing resources: giving food or objects to others.

      3. Informing: providing useful information to others.

      4. Instrumental helping: acting to enable others to reach their goals.

      Depending on the ethical value of...

    • 11 How Do Events and Relationships in Childhood Set the Stage for Peace at Personal and Social Levels?
      (pp. 185-210)
      Howard Steele, Marinus H. van IJzendoorn, Marian J. Bakermans-Kranenburg, W. Thomas Boyce, Mary Dozier, Nathan A. Fox, Heidi Keller, Dario Maestripieri, Paul Odhiambo Oburu and Hiltrud Otto

      It is by no means novel to claim that early experiences with caregivers have an immediate, profound, and long-term influence on the developing child, contributing to whether the child as an older person will rely on cooperative (empathic) or competitive (aggressive) strategies when faced with frustration or distress. The power of early learning experiences is robustly evident in the tenets of ancient religions, just as it can be frequently heard in popular music, as in the 1971 Graham Nash song, “Teach your children well,” first performed on the albumDéjà Vu.“Already seen this/already been there” may be an apt...

  9. Challenges in Society

    • 12 Mental Health and Development among Children Living in Violent Conditions: Underlying Processes for Promoting Peace
      (pp. 213-232)
      Raija-Leena Punamäki

      Unfortunately, children often witness and are the targets of violence, both in their communities and homes. UNICEF (2009) estimates that over one billion children live in countries affected by wars, armed conflicts, and military violence, and experience human atrocities and material losses. Characteristic of modern wars is, indeed, the high level of civilian casualties. Violence in the home is a more invisible form of suffering. Childhood maltreatment (i.e., physical, emotional, and sexual abuse or neglect) is estimated globally to occur in 5–25% of families, based on retrospective self-reports (WHO 2007). Research shows linkages between collective and interpersonal violence: socioeconomic...

    • 13 Structural Violence and Early Childhood Development
      (pp. 233-250)
      Andrew Dawes and Amelia van der Merwe

      Our contribution has two components: First, we examine the construct “structural violence” and its role in shaping the developmental environments and outcomes of young children. Second, we propose anessential packageof evidence-based, population-level interventions for young children that reduces risk exposure and increases protective and promotive influences (see also Masten, this volume; Wachs and Rahman 2013). We see this package as a social good that must be available to all children. While relevant to child development in all countries, this part of the discussion focuses on a package appropriate for low- and middle-income countries using a South African example....

    • 14 Promoting the Capacity for Peace in Early Childhood: Perspectives from Research on Resilience in Children and Families
      (pp. 251-271)
      Ann S. Masten

      Millions of children worldwide grow up in environments characterized by danger and scarcity of resources, often in combination (Masten 2013, 2014a; Lundberg and Wuermli 2012; Britto et al. 2013). Harsh or hazardous rearing circumstances and persistent poverty pose risks not only to child development, but also to the future economic, social, and political health of societies. Extreme deprivation, family violence, dangerous neighborhoods, and exposures to severe and persistent trauma or chaos of many kinds are associated with high risk for conduct problems and violence in childhood, adolescence, and beyond, as well as the risk for intergenerational transmission of vulnerabilities or...

    • 15 Healthy Human Development as a Path to Peace
      (pp. 273-302)
      Daniel J. Christie, Catherine Panter-Brick, Jere R. Behrman, James R. Cochrane, Andrew Dawes, Kirstin Goth, Jacqueline Hayden, Ann S. Masten, Ilham Nasser, Raija-Leena Punamäki and Mark Tomlinson

      In this chapter, we offer evidence for the proposition that healthy human development lays the foundation for the development of peaceful children. When we refer topeacefulchildren, we are not implying docility in any form. To the contrary, our use of the term “peaceful” comports with the way in which scholars from the transdisciplinary field of peace and conflict studies use the term; namely, as the nonviolent pursuit of socially just arrangements between individuals and groups (Galtung 1996). We also share with peace scholars the view that peace is not sustainable without an approach that integrates non violence with...

  10. Program and Policy Implications

    • 16 Interventions: What Has Worked and Why?
      (pp. 305-322)
      Cigdem Kagitcibasi and Pia R. Britto

      Promoting peace requires concerted action. Most early childhood interventions do not focus on peacebuilding and are not implemented by peace studies scholars, yet because such interventions promote skills and abilities linked to peacebuilding (e.g., reduction in aggression and violent behaviors), they have significant implications for peace.

      Our basic premise in this chapter is that certain developmental pathways are conducive to peaceful orientations and peacebuilding. These pathways involve, for example, better executive function as well as increased communication skills, social competency, and empathy. Early childhood interventions can promote these pathways and, in turn, contribute to peace. Indeed, most early childhood interventions...

    • 17 Linking Peacebuilding and Child Development: A Basic Framework
      (pp. 323-338)
      Mohammed Abu-Nimer and Ilham Nasser

      According to the seventh Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, three factors must exist for a state to prosper: peace and stability, economic development, and rule of law. There is a need to create this environment of peace and sound governance as well as promote economic development to build nations and sustain them.¹ In this chapter, we examine ways to transform knowledge accumulated from the field of peacebuilding into developmental pathways in early childhood, the period of rapid growth when building a peaceful foundation is critical yet possible. In the early childhood development field, there have been few...

    • 18 The Power of Media in Peacebuilding
      (pp. 339-358)
      Lucy Nusseibeh

      Media is often (and perhaps rightly so) perceived as a force for evil—one that aids and abets violence and war through varying degrees of propaganda (obvious or not) and dehumanizes individuals, thereby aggravating conflicts. Here I evaluate, by contrast, the potential, positive role that media can play in counteracting negative stereotypes and dehumanization, and discuss whether this offers a way to reduce violent conflict and create pathways to peace.

      I begin with an examination of the role of early childhood development in the formation of attitudes that lead to violence. Thereafter, an assessment is made as to whether media...

    • 19 Creating Effective Programs and Policies to Reduce Violence and Promote Peace
      (pp. 361-384)
      Pia R. Britto, Rima Salah, Mohammed Abu-Nimer, Jacqueline Bhabha, Anwarul K. Chowdhury, Gary R. Gunderson, Cigdem Kagitcibasi, Lucy Nusseibeh, Olayinka Omigbodun, Mikiko Otani and Geraldine Smyth

      Peace is a desired state of being, at personal and societal levels. Virtually every language in the world has a word for peace, albeit with varying nuances and emphases. Its universal appeal, however, is also its greatest challenge, both in its varieties of definition and cultural association as well as in its achievement and aspiration. The existence of childhood constitutes another universal reality. The mosaic of humanity, with all its differences, is united through a universal process of life course development from the time of conception. Research evidence clearly indicates that the earliest years of life constitute a critical foundation...

  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 385-444)
  12. Subject Index
    (pp. 445-454)