For the most part, educational software designed for children focuses on traditional educational subjects. However, there is a need and opportunity for software that teaches children how to resolve conflicts peacefully and handle other “life” issues.

The author says that development of software on this issue is “in its infancy,” but he recommends two programs as “head and shoulders above the rest.” Here’s a short description of each:

1. The Coolien Challenge (http://www.coolienchallenge.com or 216-292-7300). Created for teens aged 12-18, this is a game in which an alien (known as a Coolien) from a nonviolent planet comes to Earth for one day and must find an Earthling (the student) to help prevent violence in school. Built on a CD-ROM platform, the program has miniature movie sequences that show typical school situations which may become violent. Students make suggestions about how to defuse a situation, and the narrator offers information on why a particular action makes or does not make sense. The software costs $89 for one user and $440 for a site license.

2. Relate for Teens (http://www.rippleeffects.com/ relateforteens or 888-259-6618). Also created for the 12-18 age group, this is a set of CD-ROMs that contain information on more than 600 health and safety topics of concern to teens. The information is written to appeal to teenagers and provides frank, but not sensationalized, information. Students can use the system with total confidentiality because it is password-protected for each user. The CD-ROMs also link to the web site of their developer, Ripple Effects. The CD-ROMs cost $1,199 for a single user and $4,700 for a site license.