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For More Civil Politics — Start With School Kids

For More Civil Politics — Start With School Kids

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The annual civility conference in San Diego is expanding its sights.

In the past, the conference on Restoring Civility to Civic Dialogue has concentrated on the nasty outbursts and innuendos of political rhetoric.

But now in its fourth year, the discussion will include how kids learn to express themselves in the first place, by placing an emphasis on creating civil conversations in the classroom.
It takes place Friday.

Carl Luna, a political science professor at Mesa College, will moderate the conference with keynote speaker Steven Dinkin, president of the National Conflict Resolution Center.

Luna said the key to civility is respect.

“As soon as respect breaks down the whole social context breaks down,” Luna told KPBS Midday Edition on Wednesday. “That’s the path we really (have) been slipping down that we need to reverse.”

Luna uses the tenure of former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner as an example.

“There was a lot of animosity,” he said. “It drives a lot of people right out of the discussion because the general noise is just so negative they don’t want to get involved.”

Dinkin, who said he will offer tips on how to governments can create a civil dialogue, said people need to acknowledge differences.

“I think one of the first steps is acknowledgment — the need to acknowledge what the individual is saying,” Dinkin said. “It’s not saying you agree with it. It’s that you acknowledge it.”

The conference is free and will take place at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice at 5998 Alcalá Park in San Diego.

For more information, go to the conference's website.

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