Education for Agape Love and Forgiveness

Forgiveness Education

What is forgiveness education?

“Forgiveness therapy” is a clinical therapy for mitigating anger caused by injustice. It has effectively served trauma survivors and individuals in prisons, but can it serve children and adolescents?

To answer this question, Dr. Robert D. Enright at UW Madison and a team of educators developed a social emotional learning program called “Forgiveness Education” to teach school-aged children the same skills for dealing with injustices that therapy clients had received.

Grade school and middle grade curriculum guides use age-appropriate stories to teach about forgiveness and other related moral virtues, and to guide children in learning how to forgive a specific person who offends.

Forgiveness is the prevention that every child should have. Learning the principles of forgiveness is important to the relationships and psychological well-being of children and adolescents.

How does it work?

You will be provided with easy-to-use lesson plans include that objectives, stories, and activities. Lessons take place once a week for 12-15 weeks, and typically last 50-60 minutes. 

General Lesson Procedure

  • Review the main ideas of last lesson
  • Introduce the main ideas
  • Read the story
  • Class discussion
  • Class activities
  • Journaling activities

Lesson 3

Students are encouraged to perceive the person who offends from a different perspective using a moral principle called inherent worth, which is the understanding that all people are unique and have value.

Students learn about inherent worth through reading and discussing Horton Hears a Who! by Dr. Seuss

  • Do all people–even those who behave unfairly–have worth? Why or why not?
  • Do you have deep worth–even when you have been treated unfairly? Why or why not?
  • How can we show that others have worth? Give specific examples.


Fifth grade students and teachers from Israel share what they learned following Agape Love and Forgiveness Curriculum. 

Andrew Frizzell is Primary 4 (ages 7-8) teacher at Springfield Primary School in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Andrew introduces how he uses Forgiveness Education in the classroom.  

Annette Shannon is a learning support teacher at Holy Cross Girls’ Primary school (ages 4-11) in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Annette Shares feedback from Primary 3 teachers and students who used Forgiveness Education.  

Images from Forgiveness Education curriculum story “Rising above the Storm Clouds”

Why do Forgiveness Education?

Teachers have indicated that Forgiveness Education is easy to use, makes them better instructors and better persons and increases in cooperation within their classrooms.

In the USA, adolescents who were high in trait anger, saw significant reductions in school conduct problems and increases in forgiveness, self-reliance, academic achievement, and positive attitudes toward teachers and parents.
Gambaro, M. E., Enright, R. D., Baskin, T. A., & Klatt, J. (2008). Can school-based forgiveness counseling improve conduct and academic achievement in academically at-risk adolescents. Journal of Research in Education, 18, 16-27.
In Iran, eight graders from three different ethnic groups experienced significant increases in forgiveness and decreases in ethnic prejudice and anger.
Bonab, B., Khodayarifard, M., Geshnigani, R. H., Khoei, B., Nosrati, F., Song, M. J., & Enright, R. D. (2020). Effectiveness of forgiveness education with adolescents in reducing anger and ethnic prejudice in Iran. Journal of Educational Psychology.
In Belfast, Northern Ireland, first graders reduced significantly in anger. Third graders had significant decreases in both anger and depression.
Enright, R. D., Knutson, J. A., Holter, A. C., Baskin, T., & Knutson, C. (2007). Waging peace through forgiveness in Belfast, Northern Ireland II: Educational programs for mental health improvement of children. Journal of Research in Education, 17(1), 63-78.
In South Korea, female adolescents saw significant decreases in anger, hostile attribution, aggression, and delinquency and significant increases in empathy.
Park, J.-H., Enright, R. D., Essex, M. J., Zahn-Waxler, C., & Klatt, J. S. (2013). Forgiveness intervention for female South Korean adolescent aggressive victims. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 34(6), 268-276.
In Pakistan, fifth-grade aged females had significant increases in forgiveness and hope and significantly lower levels of anger beyond a year after the forgiveness education intervention.
Rahman, A., Iftikhar, R., Kim, J. J., & Enright, R. D. (2018). Pilot study: Evaluating the effectiveness of forgiveness therapy with abused early adolescent females in Pakistan. Spirituality in Clinical Practice, 5(2), 75-87.
In Turkey, fourth graders had significant increases in forgiveness and hope, and a decrease in anger.
Taysi, E., & Vural, D. (2015). Forgiveness education for fourth grade students in Turkey. Child Indicators Research, 9(4), 1095–1115.

Become a Forgiveness Educator