This method is a way to get groups to discuss different forms of violence in an interactive way. With a Violence Barometer, you could get groups to acknowledge the many levels of violence that there are in the world – and the many levels of peace we need to counter them. It is a way to make violence in society visible that we usually don’t give much attention to.
How does it work?
Write down different situations that you consider to be violent on a piece of paper.
Make sure to include different levels and different forms of violence, for example harassment and verbal violence (someone tells a refugee child to go back to where they came from), structural violence (women in Germany earn 40% less than men), physical violence (a homeless person gets beaten up on the street), microaggressions (someone tells a Black woman in Sweden that her Swedish is really good, even though she grew up in Sweden and Swedish is her native language), violence on social media (a celebrity shares on Twitter that he thinks “the Jews” are behind Coronavirus), etc.
You could focus on a specific topic (such as human rights, gender, global justice, climate justice, life in your city, etc.) or you could just have peace as an overarching topic and include all forms of violence you can think of. For a focus on gender, the Free to be you and me toolkit has example statements.
Ideally, you would have between 15 and 30 statements, depending on the size of your group and how much time you have for the activity.
- Your group’s task is to rank all the statements from “most violent” to “least violent”. They should form a consensus by discussing with each other which forms of violence are more or less violent. Explain that all of these statements are violent, there is no right and no wrong solution. The point is for them to have discussions.
- Give a trigger warning. Violence may bring up difficult memories or emotions, especially if it includes topics close to trauma such as abuse or suicide. Participants should have the possibility to leave or not join the activity.
- Everyone should be able to participate in the decision making process. Give at least 40 minutes to your group to discuss. Everyone in the group should read all the statements and they have enough time to discuss.
- If your group is big, you could divide them in smaller groups.
- Ask the group what different forms of violence they observed in the statement and what criteria they had for ranking.
- Give the group 20 minutes to come up with solutions to overcome the violence of each statement. Let them walk around with post-its to write solutions on, and place it on a statement.
- Debrief and ask what their role can be in these solutions. Be clear that these solutions are forms of peace.
How can I do it online?