THE PEER MEDIATION PROGRAM
Empowering Students to be Peacemakers
Discipline problems plague classrooms and schools. Students argue, threaten, tease, and harass one another. Conflicts involving racial and cultural differences are increasing. Violence is escalating. Conflicts among students and between students and staff seem to occur more often. These conflicts cause a lot of stress and anxiety for not only the teachers but the students as well. So The Brieant Youth Alliance (BYA) made a commitment to partner with school administrators and educational consultants to address the issues caused by stress and adversity. Through the Center’s support, a Peer Mediation Program was established to help students focus on managing their own behavior and actions as well as their peers.
Through a Peer Mediation Program students learn the skills, attitudes and ways to act socially without adult supervision to resolve issues and conflicts in the classroom, at home and in their community. They learn to become more skillful in controlling situations and participate in those situations. Students learn to assess situations, make judgements on the behavior that are or are not appropriate, follow through on decisions and work toward resolving issues.
Students who participate in the program will be able to help resolve conflicts between other peers. The training will help to:
- Reduce the number of student to student conflicts referred to teachers or the principal
- Educate students about the mediation procedures and skills needed to resolve conflicts
- Teach students to use these procedures and skills in settings other than the classroom
The Peer Mediation Program selection is conducted through recommendations made by the Principal, Vice – Principal(s) and Guidance Counselors.
OVERVIEW OF ACTIVITIES
In training over an established period of time decided on by the school administrators, educational consultant and the Program Director/Board Member of the BYA, students are taught to become skillful negotiators in three steps. Each training session provides students the opportunity to role-play and practice the procedures and skills involved in negotiating and mediating until students can negotiate and mediate routinely. This disciplined approach empowers students to solve their own problems and control their classmate’s behavior.
Step 1: Negotiation
The first step in the Peer Mediation Program is to teach all students to negotiate constructive resolutions to their conflicts. The negotiation procedure teaches students to define their conflict, exchange positions and proposals, view the situation from both perspectives, discuss options that benefit both, and reach an agreement. Students are taught the following:
- State what you want: “I want to be the first person in our group to present on climate control.”
- State how you feel: “I’m frustrated that I can’t go first.”
- State the reasons for your wants and feelings: “My part of the presentation is a better segue to the group’s presentation on climate control. Your part discusses what other countries do to control climate changes instead of discussing the issue. I am frustrated that you are so insistent to go first.”
- Summarize your understanding of what the other person wants, how the other person feels, and the reasons underlying both.
- Discuss three options to resolve the conflict.
- Choose a plan and shake hands.
Students need to learn the negotiation procedure and become skillful in its use in relatively easy situations before they can be expected to use it to resolve real conflicts.
Step 2: Conflict Mediation
Step 3: The Outcome
Students learn how to negotiate and mediate and come to a solution that is acceptable by both parties. They are allowed to make decisions about issues that affect their lives rather then it being a decision imposed by teachers, school administrators or parents. It is a truly empowering experience. Booster sessions are provided throughout the year to help students maintain the use of the procedures.
The real outcome is to see a decline in the number of disciplinary problems in the classroom. And feedback from teachers is that they hear from students that they get along better with their parents and/or siblings.