THE KANSAS CITY YOUTH PEACEMAKING

CIRCLE PROJECT (KCYPCP) –
THE POTENTIAL TO REDUCE VIOLENCE
AND PROVIDE HEALING WITH A
RESTORATIVE JUSTICE PEACEMAKING
CIRCLE.
A Dissertation Defense
Presented by: J. Renee Trombley
College of Juvenile Justice and Psychology
Prairie View A&M University
October 29, 2012

Defense - A Peacemaking Project





Why was this important?
What did the research already show?
Why an experiment was chosen?
How the project was implemented?
What did analysis and findings show?
Discussion

Violence Among Youth

Among all age groups, teens and young
adults experience the highest rates of
violent victimization.
Annually, African-American youth
experience the greatest risk of
victimization.
The Center for Disease Control has noted
that homicide is the second leading
cause of death among youth, but it is the
leading cause of death among black
youth ages 10 to 24 years old (CDC,
2010).

A New Area of Research Exposure to Community Violence

Exposure to community violence is the most
prevalent form of victimization that youth
experience, with 8.8 million youth exposed to
community violence annually in the United
States (Kilpatrick, Saunders, & Smith, 2003).
The Children’s Exposure to Violence: A
Comprehensive National Survey, a project
sponsored by OJJDP and supported by the
Center for Disease Control and Prevention in
2008 found that over 60% of youth had been
exposed to violence, either directly or indirectly,
in the last year alone (Finkelhor et al., 2009).

Exposure to Community
Violence: Known Risk Factors

Race, gender, age, and socio-economic status
are all consistent predictors for rates of exposure
among youth.
Neighborhood disadvantage, high presence of
immigrants, youth expressing greater
neighborhood affiliation, and youth who adopt
“the Code of the Street” as a means to protect
against victimization.
Family characteristics of low parental monitoring
and negative parenting (Mediating Factor).
Biological traits including increased aggression
and depression symptoms.

A New Area of Research Exposure to Community Violence

Scarpa (2003) notes that “exposure to
community violence has emerged as an
independent risk factor for problems such as
depression, anxiety, and aggression in youth”
(p. 217).
Knowledge of violence and witnessing violence
are both significantly associated with an
increase in high-risk behaviors (Albus, Weist, &
Perez-Smith, 2004).
A multitude of consequences exist not only
emotional/mental, but physically and financially
as well.

Effects of Exposure to
Community Violence

Symptoms of psychological trauma including
anger, anxiety, depression, and dissociation
have been found (Rosenthal, 2000).
Ludwig & Warren (2009) found increasing
levels of exposure to community violence
positively associated with increases in levels
of internalizing and externalizing
psychological symptoms.
High levels of ECV associated with increased
use of negative coping strategies (Garrido et
al., 2010).

Effects of Exposure to
Community Violence

Research on ECV and PTSD
overwhelmingly pervade the literature
regarding trauma outcomes.
It is one of the clearest statistically
significant outcomes presented in health
studies on effects of exposure to
community violence among youth and
young adults (Dennis et al., 2009; Luthra
et al., 2009; Paxton et al., 2004; Scarpa et
al., 2002; Scarpa et al., 2006; Scott, 2007).

Effects of Exposure to
Community Violence

The literature is clear that violence and
exposure to violence share a mutually
reciprocal relationship.
Research shows the use of violence
predicts risk of exposure to violence
and increased risks for use of violence,
while exposure to violence
increases the risk for increased
exposure to violence and increased
risk for use of violence.

ECV and Use of Violence

Exposure to violence has been linked to weapon
carrying, and weapon carrying has been tied to
willingness to use violence and aggression.
Theoretical explanations include Anderson’s
Code of the Street (1999) and Agnew’s (1980)
and General Strain Theory.
Swisher and Latzman (2008) have utilized a lifecourse theory of offending and suggest that
youth violence is an adaptation formed by youth
through daily experiences encountering high
levels of community violence in the
neighborhoods they live in.

Effects of Exposure to
Community Violence

These findings are consistent with
the idea that there are overlaps in
issues of violence among youth that the decisions to engage in
violence by youth are
multidimensional processes and
often predicated on past
experiences of exposure with
community violence.

Restorative Justice &
Peacemaking Circles

What exactly is Restorative Justice and
what are Peacemaking Circles?
Restorative Justice has been defined as “a
process to involve, to the extent possible,
those who have a stake in a specific offense
and to collectively identify and address harms,
needs, and obligations, in order to heal and put
things as right as possible (Zehr, 2002, p.37).”
 Peacemaking circles include bringing
individuals and groups together for a process
of dialogue that inherently respects the values
and rights of each participant.

Peacemaking Circles

Beauty of peacemaking circles is
adaptability to meet unique needs of
almost any situation. Structure of process
same - content dependent on needs.
Used in a wide variety of contexts, all under
term peacemaking circles, and include the
use of talking circles, understanding circles,
healing circles, sentencing circles, support
circles, community-building circles, conflict
circles, reintegration circles and celebration
circles (Pranis, 2005).

Peacemaking Circles

The process of circle is characterized by
unique stages and by the introduction of
several keys pieces that clearly
distinguish it from other group process
work.
Opening and Closing
 Keeper or Group Facilitator
 Centerpiece
 Talking Piece
 Values
 Consensus Decision Making

Peacemaking Circles

In July 2010, the Department of Justice
hosted a Tribal Youth Summit, and
included in this event was a Listening to
the Voices of Tribal Youth Circle, where
youth from tribal communities were
allowed to share their concerns with
many high level federal officials who
were participating in the circle (Office of
Juvenile Justice and Delinquency
Prevention, 2011).

The Kansas City Youth’s
Peacemaking Circle Project

Some cities are characterized by the high levels
of community violence that residents living there
experience. Kansas City, Missouri is one such
city.
The city is even referred to as “Killa City” by
many youth and young adults.
According to a recent Forbes Report, Kansas City
ranked 9th as the most dangerous city to live in.
The Violence Policy Center recently noted that
Missouri had the highest Black victim homicide
rate in the United States.

The Kansas City Youth’s
Peacemaking Circle Project

A city ready for answers!
 Master

Thesis – Participating Youth
Suggest Issue of Violence
 Mayor Sly James collaborating with
community organizations seeking
change (Plaza area)
 Support for facility was provided by
Christian Fellowship Baptist Church seeking alternatives to reducing
violence and impact among youth

The Kansas City Youth’s
Peacemaking Circle Project

H1 – Youth who have participated in a
peacemaking circle project will
experience significant reductions in levels
of post-traumatic-stress-disorder
symptomology when compared to their
peers receiving no treatment.
H2 - Youth who have participated in a
peacemaking circle project will
experience significant reductions in their
willingness to utilize violence in future
events when compared to their peers
receiving no treatment.

The Kansas City Youth’s
Peacemaking Circle Project

Study was quasi-experimental design
Referrals, posted flyers, radio advertisement
on local community radio station, accidental
and snowball sampling methods utilized.
N= 70 participants initially recruited for
study. Random selection used to assign
participants to either control or the treatment
group, N= 35.
N=18 youth initially reported for circle group,
14 completed treatment, 14 resurveyed for
control during time frame.

The Kansas City Youth’s
Peacemaking Circle Project

This research obtained financial support
through an award funded by the Association of
Doctoral Programs in Criminology and Criminal
Justice.
The award ($3000) allowed research
participants to be compensated for their time
and travel for before and after surveys ($5.00
each), to provide compensation for circle
project participants ($40.00), and to provide
transportation for circle project participants, as
well as providing meals and snacks to
participants during the circle project.

The Kansas City Youth’s
Peacemaking Circle Project

Group participants were youth, ages 13-17
years-old. Included 20 hours of participation
in a peacemaking circle focused on coming up
with ideas and plans to reduce the effects of
and the use of violence in their communities.
Important themes were used as starting
points for specific circles, including living with
trauma, learning how to heal, costs and
consequences of violence, reducing violence,
the practice of peacemaking, and suggestions
for the future.

The Kansas City Youth’s
Peacemaking Circle Project

A mixed methods approach for data
collection and analysis was utilized.
Quantitative analysis focused on
measures of PTSD symptomology and
willingness to use violence, and base line
measures of exposure to community
violence were also assessed.
A qualitative measure was assessed
regarding the use of the peacemaking
circle process – likes/dislikes, thoughts
and ideas.

The Kansas City Youth’s
Peacemaking Circle Project

Base-line measures of ECV were assessed utilizing a
scale adapted from the Survey of Exposure to
Community Violence (Richters & Saltzman, 1990)
and provided by Scarpa (2011).
Pre and post-test measures were obtained on PTSD
symptomotology using the Revised Version of the
Purdue Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Scale (PPTSDR)(Vrana & Lauterbach, 1996)
Willingness to use violence was assessed with the
ODCP Student Survey on Violence – Attitudes and
Behaviors, a 20-item survey designed to measure
behaviors and attitudes toward violence for
students in grades 4-12.

The Kansas City Youth’s
Peacemaking Circle Project

A qualitative instrument was developed
asking participant’s perception of the circle
process itself and most specifically, what they
liked best and least about the circle project.
Qualitative data was also collected
throughout the project as the primary
investigator employed participant observation
techniques. Included notes on informal
conversations, observations of processes, and
emerging themes that developed during the
circles.

The Kansas City Youth’s
Peacemaking Circle Project

An analysis of the statistical assessments
began with descriptions and base line
measures of exposure to community violence.
A paired-sample design was utilized for
statistical testing using repeated-measures on
both pre and post tests for outcome variables,
in both treatment/control group.
The repeated-measures paired-sample designs
is natural selection for comparing before/after
measures of participants in an experimental
design (Spatz, 2011).

The Kansas City Youth’s
Peacemaking Circle Project

Qualitative analysis included
examining answers provided by
participants in treatment project on
thoughts/themes about the circle
process.
Notes gathered during the circle
project were examined for apparent
themes regarding transformation
process believed to take place among
circle participants.

The Kansas City Youth’s Peacemaking
Circle Project - Findings

Descriptive Statistics

Age
 Average age was 14 years-old, over 65% of youth were

either 13 or 14 years-old. The treatment group was
slightly younger than the control group and 85% of the
treatment group was either 13 or 14 years-old at the
time of the study. Only 50% of control group in range.

Grade
 Youth reported attending grades ranging from 6 th to 12th

grade. Almost 40% of the youth reported being in 8 th
grade at the time of the study and another 40% reported
being in the 9th or 10th grade. Treatment group had no
one in 11th or 12th grade at the time of the study.

The Kansas City Youth’s
Peacemaking Circle Project

Descriptive Statistics

Gender
 Looking at the groups separately, gender

disparities between the treatment and the
control group most notable. Over half (57%) of
the control group consisted of females, yet the
treatment group was comprised of ten males
(71.4%) and only four females (28.6%).

Race
 The sample consisted primarily of African-

American youth (89%), with two youth reporting
as Biracial (C) and one youth self-identifying as
Somali (T).

The Kansas City Youth’s
Peacemaking Circle Project

A baseline measure of exposure to
community violence was conducted
during pre/post measure assessments. As
a whole, the mode for most reported
variables was zero, indicating that the
majority of youth involved in this project
had low levels of exposure to community
violence.
However, on average when examining
specific variables it is found that most
youth have experienced some exposure.

The Kansas City Youth’s
Peacemaking Circle Project

Baseline measures of exposure to cv
70% of youth had been slapped, punched, or hit by
someone who was a member of their family at least
once
 80% reported that they had seen someone else being
slapped, punched, or hit by a member of their family
 70% reported being slapped, punched, or hit by
someone who was not a member of their own family
 70% had seen someone else slapped, punched, or hit
by someone who was not a member of their family
 30% reported being beaten up or mugged at least once
 60% admitted seeing someone else beaten up or
mugged.

The Kansas City Youth’s
Peacemaking Circle Project

Baseline measures of exposure to cv





Almost 20% of respondents reported being sexually
assaulted, molested, or raped at least once
10% reported seeing someone else being sexually
assaulted
85% admitted seeing someone with a weapon
before
90% of youth reported hearing gunfire from either
inside or outside of their homes
50% of youth reported that they have seen
someone wounded during a violent attack
10% have actually witnessed a killing

The Kansas City Youth’s
Peacemaking Circle Project

Exposure Measures
None of the youth reported ever having been
attacked with a knife or shot with a “real” gun,
a few youth did report being shot with BB
guns
 When examining the groups separately they
are comparable, with one discrepancy,
considerably fewer youth in the treatment
group reported being slapped, punched, or hit
by family members during both pre and post
measures.

The Kansas City Youth’s
Peacemaking Circle Project

Pre/Post Test Group Differences

A paired-sample t-test was utilized to test for
differences about the mean
 ODCP Student Survey on Violence – Attitudes

and Behaviors
 PTSD symptomology using the Revised Version
of the Purdue Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Scale (PPTSD-R)
 Results were examined for the group as a whole
and individually for both treatment/control
group.

The Kansas City Youth’s
Peacemaking Circle Project

Pre/Post Test Group Differences
Re: Hypothesis 1, Youth who have participated in a
peacemaking circle project will experience significant
reductions in their willingness to utilize violence in
future events when compared to their peers receiving
no tx.
 As a whole, the t-test for paired differences, on the
ODCP Student Survey on Violence, questions I would
rather use violence to handle problems, and violence is
easier than trying to handle problems peacefully, both
stat. sign. at the .001 and .05 level respectively.
 Repeated among tx group, and as expected no
statistically sign. results among the control group.
 However, direction was opposite than expected

The Kansas City Youth’s
Peacemaking Circle Project

Pre/Post Test Group Differences
Re: Hypothesis - Youth who have participated in a
peacemaking circle project will experience significant
reductions in levels of post-traumatic-stress-disorder
symptomology when compared to their peers receiving
no treatment.
 As a whole, significance was found in question #4 - Did
you feel very upset when something happened to
remind you of the event? Results were significant at .
000. This was repeated among the control group
although the tx group approached sign. at .054.
 The tx group showed significant differences (.042) for
question #5 – Did you avoid situations or activities that
might remind you of the event?

The Kansas City Youth’s
Peacemaking Circle Project

Findngs do not fully support accepting 1st
hypothesis – However, scores highlight marked
improvement in youth’s understanding of their own
violence. This is a positive sign since any change
must first be preceded by the knowledge that there
is something that needs to be changed.
Without that knowledge there can be no progress.
The 2nd hypothesis under investigation during this
study is rejected. Although significant reductions in
the treatment group were found, this was only with
respect to one aspect of PTSD symptomology.

The Kansas City Youth’s
Peacemaking Circle Project

Qualitative Research - Question - How
does transformation take place
during peacemaking circles?
Format based on temporal ordering, analyzed
according to thematic content
 Representing each stage of the weekend
 Participants involved in 20- hour weekend
event, on a Friday evening, all-day Saturday,
and Sunday afternoon/evening
 A reunion circle also took place at the
suggestion of participating youth

The Kansas City Youth’s
Peacemaking Circle Project

Project Weekend
Friday, December 9th, 2011 - 6:00 pm –
9:00 pm
Began with introductions / opening questions
 A question about experience with violence,
many participants shared experiences about
being both perpetrator/victim of violence
 Several shared how their families have been
affected by violence
 Able to express how this violence impacted
one’s decisions regarding the use of violence

The Kansas City Youth’s
Peacemaking Circle Project

Project Weekend
Friday, December 9th, 2011 - 6:00 pm –
9:00 pm
Values
 A lot of discussion re: what was meant by
specific values and how their acceptance
would translate within the peacemaking circle
 Care, compassion, and trust, were all values
that required further discussions before being
accepted onto the value list
 God

The Kansas City Youth’s
Peacemaking Circle Project

Saturday, December 10th, 2011 – 11:00
am – 9:00 pm
Values
 Dialogue focused on finding alternatives to
violence

 Suggestions include:
 “if people had more options” - “more options to
help the environment (within the community)” “provide alternatives” - “need cheap and fun
alternatives such as laser tag and a bowling alley”
 ”peacemaking circles in the community to talk
about (issues of violence)”

The Kansas City Youth’s
Peacemaking Circle Project

Saturday, December 10th, 2011 – 11 am – 9
pm
Reducing the use of violence

Some youth focused on deterrence based
strategies: “take everyone against violence separate and put people who endorse violence all
together, let them die or change” - “O.G.’s should
check all youngsters who are now living that life” “keep everyone on lock-down”, no tolerance for the
violence”, stricter gun control”, “send out ‘grid iron’
(intimidating police officer)” - and most
controversial of all, “shut down all shopping for
youth until the violence stops”

The Kansas City Youth’s
Peacemaking Circle Project

Saturday, December 10th, 2011 – 11 am –
9 pm
Several youth provided answers focused on
healing aspects of human interaction
including, “prayer”, people loving and caring
more” - “care and compassion is important” “embracing others – showing we do care”
 A few youth point out additional factors
including “It’s a home thing, kids growing up
without a father figure, no man at home to tell
them now” - “why we as human beings can’t
solve our problems by talking?”

The Kansas City Youth’s
Peacemaking Circle Project

Saturday, December 10th, 2011 – 11 am –
9 pm

Dialogue on where violence stems from:
 Many shared stories of victimizations, especially



being jumped
Also reported engaging in violence
Theme of retaliation, (needed or not)
Issues of family violence (whoopings)
Specific families have higher levels of violence
than others

The Kansas City Youth’s
Peacemaking Circle Project

Sunday, December 11th, 2011 – 2:00 pm –
9:00 pm - Circle w/ Key Community Leaders

Suggestions provided by youth include:
 Neighborhood Teams
 Skateboard Park
 Support for:
 Youth Led Workshops
 Activism

“utilizing peacemaking strategies with anger
management classes in place of in school
suspensions/out of school suspensions and
requiring a peacemaking class at school”

The Kansas City Youth’s
Peacemaking Circle Project

Themes from Participation
 Liked most? Dialogue based answers
 Liked least? Time factors
 Take anything from circle? Value related
 Any suggestions? Time, activities,
parties/fun?
 Reunion Circle…..
 Need more follow-up, continuation of
ties

The Kansas City Youth’s
Peacemaking Circle Project

Research and Programming Recommendations
Time Involved
 Staying True to Circle Process
 Longitudinal Programming

Policy Recommendations
Address unethical practices
 Utilize the efficacy of youth in developing solutions to
resolving high levels of violence in their communities
 Funding opportunities need to be directed towards
initiatives focused on educating youth at the
community level in social and community activism,
self-advocacy, and policy decision making processes.

The Kansas City Youth’s
Peacemaking Circle Project

One finding standing out the most relates to
the circular nature of violence.
Black Elk was quoted as saying, a Native
American belief is that everything in nature
works in a circle.
However, there is promise in peacemaking
practices. The energy that peace provides
also seems to work in a circular nature and
there remains the hope that one day it will be
the prevailing force in our communities.