Resources for the Study of Peace, Conflict, and Violence

Resources for the Study of Peace, Conflict, and Violence.jpg

“From clinical psychology, alternatives are sought that allow the development of practices, policies, and strategies to address the phenomenon of violence.”

Tragic events involving aspects of racism and violence, such as the shooting at a shopping mall in El Paso, Texas, USA, where more than 20 innocent people lost their lives, set off alarm bells in Mexican and American society to search for answers to curb the occurrence of such events. Trying to find a rational explanation to avoid this happening again, the civilian community demands answers from mental health professionals, who are beginning to pay attention to the social conditions that lead to violent events of this magnitude.

The clinical methodologies of Psychology seek alternatives that permit the development of practices, policies, and strategies to address the phenomenon of violence. For example, organizations such as the American Psychological Association (APA), one of the most important organizations that regulate teaching, practice, and research in the science of Psychology, have publicly established its position on the outbreaks of violence involving the use of weapons and its relationship to mental health [1].

Generally, the APA's official stance on comparable events of violence seeks to avoid the stigmatization of mental health when discussing violent conduct that affects the community. This position means addressing the problem from multiple social perspectives that go beyond labeling the participants in violent acts as "mentally ill" in a simplistic way. This argument is based on evidence that most people prone to mental disturbances are not necessarily people who exhibit violent behavior or whose condition massively impacts society.

Warning about the dangers of oversimplifying violence, the APA posits that other perspectives, such as control of access to weapons, are more promising strategies to respond to this growing social problem. The organization also declares that it is necessary to stop the "hate rhetoric that infects public discourse" as a way of avoiding a volatile environment where these eruptive ideas are normalized and, consequently, the conditions for violent attacks on targeted groups strengthen.

Within the organization of the APA is the Division for the Studies of Peace, Conflict and Violence (Division 48: Psychology of Peace) [5], which permits and promotes the coming together of researchers and academicians from different disciplines to understand the factors that enable the development of peace, non-conflictive solutions, reconciliation and its causes, as well as the prevention of violence and destructive conflict.

One of the tools of Division 48 is its journal, "Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology" [4], which ranks at publication levels Q2 according to SCImago Journal Rank, meaning that as one of the most cited sources, the Division 48 journal has an impactful level of scientific diffusion. This magazine informs professionals from various disciplines beyond psychology; for example, sociology, politics, international relations, education, government, and history, among others, on topics such as human rights, cultural or mediative differences, and issues related to the prevention and development of conflict and violence, and the promotion of social peace. Therefore, this journal is a tool that teachers can use to raise awareness in their professional networks, and their students can know the current topics of utmost importance that address harmony or lack of social harmony.

In my class, Seminar of Psychology of Vulnerable Groups, for example, the information provided by this journal and other sources from the APA allow students to receive up-to-date information on the topics that are being researched and discussed globally in the community of professionals who comprise the area of social justice.

Working with current and reputable sources such as the rankings already mentioned allows not only discussing in class relevant information that can be incorporated in classroom activities but also finding out about contemporary authors who can be contacted to learn more about the work they do at universities in other countries. For example, in the classroom, it is possible to use this current information to enrich the debate on current relevant issues, culture and human rights [2] and how these are being addressed in different disciplines.

I invite the teaching community to get involved by having a perspective of peace when considering the social phenomena that occur in our environment, where everyone in their professional areas can increase the lens to analyze and propose multidisciplinary strategies in response to today's demands for social justice.

About the author

Juan Antonio Valdivia Vázquez (javaldivia@tec.mx) holds a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from Washington State University. He is a professor and researcher in Psychology at the School of Medicine and Health Sciences at Tecnológico de Monterrey.

 

References

[1] American Psychological Association (2019). Statement of APA CEO on Gun Violence and Mental Health. Accessed at https://www.newswise.com/articles/statement-of-apa-ceo-on-gun-violence-and-mental-health

[2] McFarland, S. (2015). Culture, individual differences, and support for Human Rights: A general review. Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, 21(1), 10-27.

[3] Scimago Journal & Country Rank (Undated). Peace and Conflict. Accessed from https://www.scimagojr.com/journalsearch.php?q=12793&tip=sid&clean=0

[4] Taylor & Francis Online (Undated). Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology. Accessed from https://www.tandfonline.com/toc/hpcn20/17/3?nav=tocList

[5] The Society for the Study of Peace, Conflict & Violence (Undated). APA Division 48 Information. Accessed from http://peacepsychology.org/apa-council-reps