TKF is embarking on its second critically important program initiative since its founding in 1996. We have just begun a longitudinal study to determine how effective TKF’s programs are in reducing violent behavior. A longitudinal study is simply a long term study with repeated observations to determine a trend. At TKF, we believe that our programs, if implemented at the proper frequency and in the proper settings, can actually reduce a child’s violent behavior. We believe we can reduce youth violence in a specific neighborhood if we implement our programs at the grade schools, middle schools and high schools that feed into each other.
Back in 2001, TKF embarked on its first critically important initiative. TKF set out to prove that our programs change the attitude of children in regards to violence. We believed we could reach the kids who were most likely to be violent, teach them our six key messages and change their attitudes towards violence. With the help of San Diego State University’s Institute for Public Health and an outside consulting firm, TKF proved beyond any doubt that our programs do change attitudes towards violence. As an example, before our programs only 8% of kids felt that being in a gang makes it more likely that you will get hurt or killed. After our programs, the percentage changed to 84%. This change is significant and according to the outside consulting firm is both unique and remarkable.
As remarkable as the results are of the 2001 study, changing attitudes towards violence is not enough. TKF’s mission “Stopping kids from killing kids …” requires that we change behavior as well. As an analogy, Alcohol Anonymous (AA) does not simply change people’s attitude about alcoholism. AA’s goal is much bolder, to change the behavior of an alcoholic such that they achieve sobriety. Changing an alcoholic’s attitude towards drinking is a key, but achieving sobriety is the ultimate goal.
Over the next five years, you will be hearing much more about the longitudinal study on violent behavior. This study is based on TKF’s Peace Empowerment Project or PEP. We expect that PEP will have remarkable results and will become a national standard for teaching our children about non-violence. The stakes are high. If we succeed, if we can create a society where children are not violent, the logical consequence is world peace.
In peace and love….. Mark Fackler