Denea Malone, an experienced Girls Circle Program facilitator with us at the Center for Dispute Resolution, dedicated her thesis research to exploring the perceived long-term influences of the Girls Circle Program. She made use of focus groups and interviews to reveal the experiences of Girls Circle Program participants (girls who had participated in the Girls Circle Program 6 months ago or longer), their guardians, and school counselors. Participant experiences implied the Girls Circle Program has a long-term influence on the lives of girls in areas of conflict resolution, communication, and relationships:
- Girls seem to be more open and civil with their mothers creating an overall stronger bond
- Girls are handling disagreements in a safe and productive manner
- Rather than resorting to physical violence, girls seem to communicate to resolve issues
- Girls seem to have improved motivation and self-worth
- Quality and selection of friends by girls were viewed as improved
- Girls felt that they were a better friend to others
The most impactful circle activities attributed to the mentioned long-term changes included discussion and journaling. Girls experienced safety, respect, and trust while seeking advice from other girls during discussion. Journaling seem to have prompted positive long-term changes by providing a private girl-facilitator conversation while also allowing for girls to further process their thoughts through writing.
Denea’s public thesis presentation and defense was held at the Center for Dispute Resolution on the 10th of this month. Her thesis findings prompted a great discussion among Missouri State University faculty and community members who attended as to how the Girls Circle Program could further evolve. Denea’s research coupled with the attendee discussion will help shape future organization of the Girls Circle Program here at the Center for Dispute Resolution. Concerning upcoming endeavors, her research will be presented at the Association for Conflict Resolution Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio in October and she also plans to submit her work to academic journals for publication.