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Helping Kids! Cross-Cultural Research on Children’s Prosocial Behavior in Societies Transitioning to Peace
2021-09-04, Bähr, Celia, Dautel, Jocelyn, Maloku, Edona, Taylor, Laura K., et al.
Intrastate conflicts dominate the twenty-first century. Understanding the psychological mechanisms necessary to transform such settings into more peaceful societies is essential. Toward that end, Helping Kids! is a cross-cultural project that focuses on children in conflict-affected contexts. Moving away from the conceptualization of youth as perpetrators or powerless victims, Helping Kids! recognizes that children can foster a peaceful future, despite growing up in the shadow of war. This chapter approaches peace holistically and understands it as not merely the absence of violence, exploring a conceptualization of positive peace. In line with this understanding, Helping Kids! goes beyond reducing prejudice to focus on intergroup prosocial acts. The chapter first outlines how outgroup prosociality can be understood as an antecedent of peacebuilding, then presents evidence from elementary school-aged children in five different contexts of intergroup conflict (Northern Ireland, Croatia, Kosovo, Republic of North Macedonia, and Israel) to reflect both the complexity and diversity of this area of research. We highlight both the common characteristics as well as differences across the Helping Kids! contexts and how children can contribute to a transition to peace. The chapter concludes with recommendations for future research and practice.