Forgiveness as an educational goal with fifth-grade inner city children

Sigrid Helene Hepp-Dax, Fordham University


An educational, group intervention with forgiveness as a goal was implemented with inner-city fifth-grade children. Eleven fifth-grade boys, ages 10 to 12, were randomly assigned to experimental and control groups. Twelve fifth-grade girls were also randomly assigned to experimental and control groups. The experimental group intervention was based on a Manual (adapted from Freedman, 1994) designed to teach an 18-step process model of forgiveness (Enright & the Human Development Group, 1991). The active control group intervention was an ecology program designed specifically for this study. All four groups participated separately in one 45-minute period twice a week, for 4 consecutive weeks. Each attended a minimum of eight sessions. The groups were then exchanged, so that the control groups became experimental groups. Dependent measures used to test the program's effectiveness were three inventories given three times as pretest, three times as Posttest 1 (after the first intervention), and three times as Posttest 2 (after the second intervention). Teachers filled out a teacher rating scale, and participants were given a stress and religiosity questionnaire once at each testing period. Group differences on the Enright Forgiveness Inventory for Children favoring the experimental group, reached significance for the total forgiveness score, and three (Positive Affect, Positive Behavior, and Positive Cognition) of the forgiveness subscales after the intervention at Posttest 1, but not for the control-turned-experimental-group at Posttest 2. This analysis was based on the combined male and female scores. There was a significant increase in self-esteem, and on the Negative Cognition Subscale of the Forgiveness measure at a 7-month follow-up. There was no significant reduction in anxiety, and no meaningful changes on the Teacher Rating Scale. Individual profiles showed that 10 of the 23 participants chose to forgive and maintained or increased their forgiveness at the 7-month follow-up. Implications for future research, for inner-city schools and for psychological models of forgiveness are drawn.

Subject Area

Bilingual education|Multicultural education|Elementary education|Academic guidance counseling

Recommended Citation

Hepp-Dax, Sigrid Helene, "Forgiveness as an educational goal with fifth-grade inner city children" (1996). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9708250.