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American Psychological Association

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Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology

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Original Item ID

DOI: 10.1037/pac0000534


For the last 20 years, gun violence has severely compromised safety, learning outcomes, social development, and psychological well-being in many high school communities. An emerging body of international research describes strategies developed to support students and staff members in the wake of school shootings. However, these protocols are typically designed to help administrators manage the immediate sequelae of these incidents, leaving survivors to handle the lasting consequences of their experiences on their own. This article presents a broad framework for facilitating long-term psychological growth that can be integrated into high school curricula. It is based on the complementary theories of Post-Traumatic Growth (PTG) and Transformative Learning (TL), which explain how positive psychological change can occur after a traumatic event disrupts a person’s assumptive worldview. The three segments of the TL process—questioning, exploring, and experimenting—facilitate PTG by transforming established beliefs into broader meaning perspectives that accommodate present realities. The framework below provides an organized approach to guiding high school students, staff, and communities through the full process of rebuilding global schemas after a shooting occurs. It can be implemented alongside existing crisis-response models, resulting in an expansion of their utility. Its guided-growth strategies can also be leveraged to reshape school culture and encourage collective action in the surrounding community, maximizing the possibility of positive worldview development.


Accepted version. Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, Vol. 27, No. 3 (August 2021): 486-496. DOI. © 2021 American Psychological Association. Used with permission.

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