Conflicts are common between students in schools, necessitating educators to spend a substantial amount of time and energy trying to come up with resolutions. Some schools opt to equip students with the right tools to resolve conflicts by initiating peer mediation programs. Such programs involve training student mediators who solve a conflict between two parties. An impartial mediator listens to both sides of the story, asks questions and helps the parties to come up with an amicable solution that culminates in signing an agreement. Peer mediation helps in solving numerous conflicts, such as bullying, teasing, arguments, playground fights and theft issues.
Learning Essential Life Skills
Students learn other essential life skills, such as applying effective communication, group problem solving techniques and listening through peer mediation. Instead of solving conflicts through shouting or fighting, students find out that they must come together, tell their story, listen to others, discuss and formulate alternative resolutions to their conflicts. After reaching an amicable solution, both parties must sign an agreement and respect it. By doing so, students learn to coexist peacefully with the other conflicting party without further fights. Students can use the fundamental skills they learn from peer mediation in solving conflicts in other areas of their lives, such as work or at home.
Constructive Resolution to Conflicts
In about 90 percent of peer mediation sessions, students reach an agreement that satisfies the parties, parents, teachers and administrators. In most of these cases, the conflict is completely resolved because the concerned parties discuss all the issues revolving around the dispute comprehensively under the watchful eyes of the trained mediators. Also, students learn the importance of solving conflicts in a collaborative manner rather than through fighting or arguing. The peer mediator also refrains from judging the parties and gives them a chance to find their own solutions to the conflict. Such sessions are confidential and encourage a win-win solution for all parties. Students not only learn about conflict resolution but other positive aspects, such as listening and respecting opinions from others.
Resolving conflicts that may arise in schools requires a substantial of amount of time. Peer mediators must undergo thorough training on conflict resolution before they can take up their roles. Most schools also involve parents in the program by recruiting them as trainers to help in exporting the dispute resolution skills to families and communities. Teachers also play a pivotal role in the program by using dispute resolution techniques in the classroom for students to emulate. On the other hand, students spend a considerable amount of time mediating different conflicts that may arise in school. In essence, all the activities that contribute to the success of the peer mediation programs are time consuming.
Choosing Peer Mediatiors
According to University of Wisconsin-Stout, the choice of student mediators plays a significant role in ensuring the success of the program. Schools must consider a number of variables, such as gender, socioeconomic status, age, race and special needs when selecting student mediators. Picking a diverse group makes it possible for most students to feel connected and comfortable with the mediators. Learners will thus find it easier to approach such mediators whenever a conflict arises. However, if a school fails to select an all-inclusive peer mediator group, some students might shy away from using them in times of conflict.
- University of Wisconsin-Stout: Peer Mediation: What School Counselors Need to Know
- Continuing Education for Social Work: Peer Mediation Framework for School Counselors
- School Mediation Associates: Students Resolving Conflict
- Harvard Negotiation Law Review: Peer Meditation In Schools: Expectations And Evaluations
- Bishop Dwenger: The Benefits of Peer Meditation
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