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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 and some other part of the world, 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

  • Social media improprieties
  • Relationship difficulties/harassment
  • Rumor and gossip
  • Cheating and stealing
  • Racial and cultural confrontations
  • Vandalism
  • Classroom or extracurricular disputes
  • Bullying, minor assaults and fighting

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.

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……………………….[to be continued]

Extract from: Cooperative learning series

 

Look out for our next topic on Peer Mediation: Peer mediations sessions, core elements

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