CDC guidance includes UNI professor’s research

CDC guidance includes UNI professor’s research

In the Center for Disease Control’s recently released “Action Guide for School and District Leaders on Promoting Mental Health and Well-Being in Schools,” UNI professor Suzanne Freedman’s 2018 Journal of Moral Education article “Forgiveness as an educational goal with at-risk adolescents” is cited as an example of how schools can promote social, emotional and behavioral learning. 

“Forgiveness education helps students recognize and express all emotions, with specific emphasis on the idea that anger is a normal and natural emotion and it is what we do with our anger that can be considered good or bad. Forgiveness education helps students recognize, express, and decrease anger as well as develop perspective-taking skills, empathy and compassion for one's offender and others,” says Freedman.  

In her study, forgiveness education was implemented with 10 at-risk adolescents attending an alternative high school in a Midwestern city. Twenty-one participants were randomly assigned to either the experimental group (forgiveness education class) or the control group (personal communications class). Classes met daily for 31 sessions for approximately 23 hours of education. After the education, the experimental group gained more than the control group in forgiveness and hope and decreased significantly more than the control group in anxiety and depression. Verbal reports from the experimental participants following the education also illustrate the positive impact forgiveness had on the students. 

Suzanne Freedman

“To have the CDC recognize this work as an example of a targeted approach to teach emotional development illustrates how important forgiveness education is in teaching students to express and regulate all emotions, specifically the release of anger after conflict and situations of interpersonal or intrapersonal hurt,” Freedman says.  

Freedman has presented her work at national and international professional and lay conferences, including the Social and Emotional Learning Conference, returning to UNI this year on April 19.