Conflict Resolution: Washington Promotes Peer Mediation Program

Students at Washington Middle School take part in a peer mediation skit. The presentation was given prior to a recent meeting of the Jamestown Public Schools Board. P-J photo by Eric Tichy

The potential benefits of having students utilize peer mediation to resolve conflicts were displayed recently to members of the Jamestown Public Schools Board.

Washington Middle School Principal Melissa Emerson and Assistant Principal Andrea Marsh discussed a peer mediation “Peacekeepers” program being implemented. Advisors are Desiree DeMarte and Deborah Oakes.

Marsh said staff at the middle school began brainstorming ways last year to manage conflicts among students.

“Peer mediation is a well-known solution to help solve conflict and, with the help of Peaceful Schools, we were able to work together with them over the last several months to get our group up and running,” she said. “And very soon, we will be ready to start actually doing peer mediation in the building.”

According to its website, Peaceful Schools was established in the late 1990s by a group of teachers to prevent youth violence in the wake of the Columbine High School shooting.

“Since the beginning, research into resilience skills informs our approach to mediation, conflict resolution services, school-based systems of support, and curriculum to build social-emotional and problem-solving skills in youth and adults,” the company said on its website.

Information on peer mediation was handed out to members of the school board.

It discussed its basic function: a voluntary conflict resolution process designed for people who are unable to resolve problems on their own. Mediation provides a controlled, secured atmosphere and empowers those in dispute to settle their own problems.

At Washington, 12 student have been chosen to be peer mediators to lead conflict resolution that might arise in the middle school. Marsh said the program has been turned into a club, allowing students to stay after school to practice.

A handful of students performed a peer mediation skit prior to the school board meeting.

DeMarte said students have been meeting about once a week to learn skills to be mediators. “It has been our pleasure to work with such a great group of kids who undoubtedly are going to change the world one conflict resolution at a time,” she said.


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