Peace and Conscientious Objector Study Group


Goals and Objectives

1. Educate young people about the history of non-violence
  • Study non-violence using videos, readings of speeches and essays, fiction, biographies and the internet.
  • Allow young people to discuss their thoughts and give them the opportunity to become articulate speakers on peace and non-violence.
  • Incorporate noncompetitive games for trust, team building, and fun.
  • It is important that youth are not lectured at, but are given time to reflect and discuss their own thoughts and feelings.
2. Document conscientious objector status, in case a draft is reinstated Support ways to build a file to document they have deeply felt and a long-held belief against going to war and finding nonviolent solutions through:
  • Journal writings to document and clarify thoughts
  • Photographs at peace rallies at social justice events to document they attended.
  • Video statements from students, or have them make a video about peace or non-violence issues.
  • Submit articles to local papers- how they feel facing a possible draft and/or thoughts on peace and conscientious objectors
  • Write letters to editors of newspapers
  • Ask their church or synagogue leader to give a sermon on conscientious objectors, and give the youth an opportunity to speak publicly to their congregation. Include their name on the order of service and keep this for documentation that they spoke in public about their beliefs.
  • Register as a conscientious objector with religious and/or other organizations in writing. It is fine to research on-line, but important to have written correspondence.
  • Get involved in public events, or organize a teen event yourself. Volunteer at peace events and seek opportunities to speak in public.
  • Organize a nonviolent video series. Watch and discuss videos with others.
3. Identify actions to work for peace and justice
  • Attend Peace rallies and marches
  • Attend lectures, invite lecturers to your class or community
  • Read newspapers to identify local problems and service projects to work for change.
  • Brainstorm - identify individual or group projects for work in your community
  • Attend non-violence trainings- i.e. compassionate listening, conflict resolution
  • Organize a peace essay writing contest
4. Build community support for Conscientious Objectors
  • Ask parents and others to speak up for COs if they are called before a draft board. Share your views with them, so they can speak up for you.
  • Friends and community support are important. It takes a different kind of courage to be a conscientious objector. This has never been a popular belief.
5. Oppose School Recruiting
  • Provide an opposing viewpoint against military service. You can get flyers from the War Resisters League and the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors (CCCO).
  • Maintain a presence when military recruiters are at school. It may be better for parents and community adults to staff a table to hand out flyers. It is a good idea to get a military veteran to help staff the table.
  • Speak up in school classes, or ask your teacher if you can bring in a speaker.
6. Educate students about the Draft and military service
  • Discuss the reality of military service- boot camp, loss of civilian rights and freedom, training to fight and kill.
  • Understand the legalities of selective service registration, including penalties for non-registrants. Work to change the laws.
  • Prepare now for facing a future draft board. They want to see long-held beliefs.
  • Get information from the War Resisters League, Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors (CCCO) and the Center on Conscience & War
  • Another website about being a Conscientious Objector is Peace-Out. It is specifically oriented towards people in the military but much of the information is equally valuable to anybody.

Intended Audience

  • 15-18 year olds - suggested goals 1-6
  • 12-14 year olds- suggested goals 1-3
  • under 12 year olds- suggest they work on goal 1 (conflict resolution, noncompetitive games, learn about nonviolent leaders) Older kids could lead events to share what they have learned with younger kids. It is one way to document that you acted on a deeply held belief.
  • homeschoolers
  • religious education programs
  • public schools students
  • community outreach

Partial Resource List

Email me at liz(at)teenpeace(dot)org with suggestions for additional resources.

Some of these books and videos can be purchased through my association with To order a book:
  1. Click on the book or video title.
  2. A detailed page will appear in a window.
  3. You can then order the book thru Amazon's secure server.

Let us know if there are particular titles that you would recommend or want us to carry. You can also search the entire catalog and be assured of the same great prices and outstanding service that is known for.

Videos Readings Fiction See the following authors for fictional depictions of war
  • John Dos Passos
  • Thomas Boyd
  • William Faulkner
  • E.E. Cummings
  • William March
  • Ernest Hemingway
  • poetry
Biographies Internet Resources


My name is Liz Rivera Goldstein. As a mother of two home schooled teens, I began to be concerned that my children may be drafted in the near future. After viewing the video, "The Good War", about conscientious objectors during World War II, I began to investigate what it means to be a CO. One of the first comments I heard was, "Well, you get their teachers to write letters, and you submit school essays that show they are conscientious objectors." How could my children, as homeschoolers, get such documentation? Other homeschoolers have similar concerns, and I have heard from other families in Port Townsend, where I live. I feel that I cannot do this only for my own children. Reflecting on how the Vietnam War affected my childhood, and the world around me, I hope I can try to make my children's lives, and the lives of their friends and families more compassionate and less torn by world violence. I have worked to make the world better for children as a midwife, a volunteer with Girl Scouts for over 13 years, a preschool teacher, and conflict resolution school playground mediator. I have worked with kids from birth to teen, and especially enjoyed 10 years on the staff of a day camp (4 years as camp director). I believe in listening to young people and helping them to make their dreams and ideas a reality.

For more information contact: Liz Rivera Goldstein at liz[at]teenpeace(dot)org