So you’re interested in bringing a peer mediation program to your school. You understand the benefits of having students trained in mediation to help other students resolve conflicts they have with one another in positive ways. But how do you do that? Here are some tips to get you started:
- Start with an informal survey of students and educators at the school. Find out what types of conflicts occur often at the school and what types of effective processes (or lack of) for resolving them are in place. If there are several interpersonal conflicts among students, then a peer mediation program may be a great way to go.
- Enlist students to join the cause. Find some students who understand how peer mediation can benefit your school and are willing to work with you to start a program.
- Perform a more formal survey. Administer a written survey to students and educators at your school. Use the information you collected from the informal survey to show administration why a more formal survey would be useful.
- Compile research. Try to get relevant discipline data from the school to further illustrate how there is a need for a peer mediation program. Find information on how peer mediation programs can be effective for the types of conflicts you found occur at your school.
- Find out what peer mediation resources exist in your community. Look into community-based mediation organizations and conflict resolution and peer mediation training for educators near your school.
- Make a presentation. Convince the principal, other administrators and other people who will be instrumental in letting a program start why they should support bringing peer mediation to your school.
- Bring in appropriate training. Work with an administrator to get training for your school. Determine whether you want to have educators at your school trained to run the program, or bring in outside help from an organization.
- Make more presentations. Convince your fellow educators and students about the benefits of using a peer mediation program and recruit students who would like to be mediators.
- Get mediation written into the discipline policy. Make sure the administrators write mediation into the discipline policy for your school.
- When the program is ready, make presentations on how to use it. Once students are trained, make presentations to educators and students at your school so they know how to make referrals to the program.
For more in-depth information on starting a peer mediation program, check out this information: http://www.schoolmediation.com/pdf/Quick-Guide-to-Implementing-a-Peer-Mediation-Program.pdf
Some justification to start a Peer Mediation program at your school:
- Suspensions for fighting have decreased at schools with peer mediation programs by at least 45% (Joel Frederickson and Geoffrey Maruyama, “Peer Mediation Programs: Benefits and Key Elements, “ Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement Research/Practice Newsletter, Vol. 4, No. 3, Fall 1996, University of Minnesota, http://www.cehd.umn.edu/carei/publications/documents/PeerMediation.pdf).
- Trained peer mediators are more inclined to help their peers with conflicts and have increased self esteem, better communication, and higher academic achievement (Russell Skiba and Reece Peterson, “Creating a Positive Climate: Peer Mediation, What Works in Preventing School Violence,” Safe and Responsive Schools, 2000).
- Regarding peer mediation, a survey of 2,000 teachers demonstrated that referrals to the principal's office for discipline issues dropped 75% in three months, and teachers were able to spend an additional hour per day on teaching previously focused on disciplining students (John W. McDonald, “Our Work with Peer Mediation,” Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy Newsletter, September 2011).