Convinced that proactive prevention is the best way to stem the rising tide of school violence, and in the wake of the 1999 Columbine High School massacre, the assembly program, Breaking the Cycle, was initiated. This award-winning program stresses honest communication and forgiveness as a way of resolving conflicts and easing the tensions that linger afterward. Focusing on real-life experiences, rather than theories, Breaking the Cycle assemblies feature several internationally known advocates for peace and reconciliation.

Breaking the Cycle brings its message to tens of thousands of teens each year, and in 2008 started a chapter in the UK featuring speakers from the USA and England working together. It underscores the efforts of principals, teachers, and law enforcement, to counteract school violence by proactively addressing its most common roots: bullying, peer pressure, gossip, racism, and other forms of intolerance. By addressing these problematic roots of school violence, assemblies organized by Breaking the Cycle generate self-respect and respect for others – both keys to school safety – and strengthen positive links between school employees, parents, students and local law enforcement officers.

As part of the program, free books on over-coming fear and prejudice, nurturing forgiveness, and related themes are offered to participating students at their request. More than 150,000 copies have been distributed to date.

Our main goals are to:

  • Counteract youth violence
  • Address bullying, peer pressure and racism
  • Promote self-respect and respect for others
  • Build links between educators, parents, students and law enforcement

Breaking the Cycle's approach is simple: Our speakers tell personal stories of life experiences that demonstrate how, through choosing to forgive, conflicts can be resolved. The message is positive and non-religious - a direct appeal stressing self-respect and the unique value of each individual. Talks are followed by Q&A sessions, and an informal reception is held afterwards for staff and invited guests.

Breaking the Cycle began in the United States following the 1999 Columbine High School shootings, in an effort to stem the country's rising tide of youth violence. Since then the assemblies have been held at hundreds of schools and colleges throughout the USA. In 2008, Breaking the Cycle was brought to England featuring speakers from the USA and England working together.

Provided free of charge, Breaking the Cycle fulfills requirements placed on New York schools by the state’s S.A.V.E. legislation to instruct the entire student body in nonviolent conflict resolution. See our resources page for teaching materials.

Breaking the Cycle speakers recently received the Pride of Ulster Award, the highest honor bestowed by that county.