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McNair Scholars Program

Sarah (Burdiek) Olson, M.S.W.

she/her

Education: Bachelor of Science in lifespan human development (May 2005)

Master of Social Work from the University of Kansas

McNair Project: An Analysis of Children's Changing Understanding of "War" and "Peace" Related to Cognitive Levels (2004)

Mentor: Karen Myers-Bowman, Ph.D.

The current investigation examines the content of children’s responses to questions about strategies to attain peace. Interviews were conducted with 21 children and adolescents ages 6-14 following the September 11, 2001 attacks and before the start of the Iraq war. Children responded to the questions: 1) “If you were President of the United States, what would you do about war and peace?” and 2) if you were “Leader of the World, what would you do about war and peace?” Using qualitative analysis techniques, answers were coded into the following themes: no strategy, stop or prevent war/fighting, change attitudes, talk or negotiate, attack or punish someone, unique answers, uses the term “peace”, and uses the term “war”. Results indicate that more females than males spoke of changing attitudes. Older children provided answers that were more complex, and more often included the strategies of talking or negotiating than younger children. More children spoke about war than peace, even though the question asked about both concepts.