Peer mediation is both a program and a process
where students of the same age-group facilitate resolving disputes between two people or small groups. This process has proven effective in schools around the United States, changing the way students understand and resolve conflict in their lives. Changes include improved self-esteem, listening and critical thinking skills, and school climate for learning, as well as reduced disciplinary actions and less fights. These skills are transferable outside of the classroom.
The process is voluntary for both sides.
Peer mediators do not "make decisions" but rather work towards a win-win resolution for both sides in order to avoid further trouble. Administrators in charge of discipline incorporate this conflict resolution process into their strategies as well.
Types of problems include
More serious problems require professional referral
and are not appropriate for peer mediation. These include: sexual abuse, assault, suicide, drug use, weapon possession, and those that involve legal problems.
Costs include materials, a dedicated location/facility for mediation
and training, staff support and office space, rewards
The following summarizes
A period of planning is critical:
Peer mediation has as its foundation student empowerment, and students are critical to all stages of development and implementation.
Students form a leadership team,
facilitated by an experienced, respected coordinator, and a few trusted teachers and /or professionals. The team can be appointed or self-developed. The team:
Researches the basics of peer mediation,
the system of conflict resolution and discipline in the school,
administrative and peer support
Develops and publishes a clear vision
of its conflict resolution program.
This vision includes an overview of publicity, training, practice, modeling, and evaluation.
The goal is to educate various communities of the school on peer mediation, its expectations and limits toward building a commitment toward its implementation into a more comprehensive peace-based curriculum
The team secures commitment and support
from the school's administration, including agreements from all major school groups to follow this practice (including teachers and administrators)
The team commits to long term buy-in:
preparation meetings, practice mediation skills,
and continued research about violence, its causes and prevention
The coordinator acts as liaison between major groups, including:
the leadership team, student body, administrators, parent groups, and outside trainers/professionals.
Peer Mediator selection:
Initially a system of "experience" must be developed.
Peer mediators must be trained and monitored since they often lack maturity and experience, both in conflict management and negotiation skills. Strategies include role-playing, problem-based learning and active- learning. If possible, workshops should be conducted away from school to minimize distraction.
The goal is to move from mutual blame toward a solution acceptable to all parties
Disputants fill out a pre-session questionnaire
establishing ground rules, committing to solve the problem, tell the truth, and listen respectfully and without interrupting
Disputants meet with mediators
to see if chemistry is right and ensure there are no conflicts of interest
The session, disputants:
The session, co-mediators:
Co-mediators and disputants:
Co-mediators thank each person for their contribution to the process,
and for letting the mediation service help them