What happens when youth learn to be mediators?
This year Tappan Middle School is a champion in acknowledging that youth – given the right tools – can be problem solvers. They are bravely providing a platform for students to help their peers resolve conflict. The Dispute Resolution Center is honored to partner with them in their Peer Mediation Initiative.
In March, seventeen students – grades 6th, 7th, and 8th – were trained in peer mediation. They learned to communicate in a neutral, non-threatening way, listen actively and with compassion, assist their peers brainstorm ideas and develop solutions that address the root of the problem.
For the remainder of the school year, the student mediators helped approximately 20 of their classmates resolve
conflicts without the concern of punishment, detention or suspension. Consequently students had more class time, repaired relationships, and experienced a process that will stay with them for a lifetime. What is even more impressive is the student mediators want to do more. This is what they had to say about their experience:
“[I] love having a new skill that they will use forever.”
“[Peer mediation] let people talk things out with each other
instead of going behind someone’s back.”
“[They] felt rewarded to know they were able to really help someone else.”
“Six graders are being helped, which helps the six grader stay more focused on school.”
These are the reasons why the DRC keeps at it. Training students in mediation, restorative practice and peacemaking techniques, we offer an alternative to the school’s traditional disciplinary system. The direct and social costs of traditional discipline include high rates of suspensions, loss of school safety and a poor sense of community. By having students help their peers reach resolutions, we see a reduction in suspension, and increased sense of safety and community. Most importantly, it gives our youth a safe space to learn, to become critical thinkers, empathetic citizens and compassionate leaders.
The DRC strives to help more young people learn these important skills and ask for your help. Your tax-deductible donation of $150 will support training the next generation of mediators and restorative practice facilitators. A gift of $3,000 supports a school or youth organization develop a peer mediation program with 20 trained mediators. Imagine how our society will be impacted today and in the future when our youth learn that mediation, rather than confrontation and violence, is the way to deal with life’s problems.
Thank your for your support of the DRC. It is because of you that we are able to continue to provide this important work in our community.
Belinda Dulin Lorin Cartwright
Executive Director Board President