Successfully used to dissolve minor disputes across the globe, peer mediation offers effective behaviour management. Used primarily in schools, peer mediation empowers students giving them tools to help with conflict resolution, increase self-esteem, deepen insight, improve peer climate, and prevent further aggressive action. Using peer mediation is a perfect alternative for those searching for resolutions that empower young people and give them greater insight into the human condition.
What is Peer Mediation?
Peer mediation is a popular restorative approach where trained mediators work in pairs to solve minor disputes between their peers. Peer mediation involves finding out what happened and allowing grievances to be aired by both parties expressing their thoughts and feelings about individual behaviours.
Peer mediation is primarily used in schools to empower students to resolve their own conflicts, assisting with behaviour management. The process includes a disagreement volunteer discussing the issues with those involved with the dispute. They explore solutions to the problems and help provide constructive closure. This is usually operated within the school ethos as well.
The Benefits and Disadvantages of Peer Mediation
Finding creative solutions that empower students and resolve conflict can be difficult. Peer mediation provides this. On its basic level, peer mediation resolves conflicts between students. Nearly 90% of peer mediation sessions result in an agreement that satisfies the student body, the school, and parents and guardians. Mediators encourage their peers to delve deeper into the conflict and address all issues that may have caused the dispute.
Considering the actions, peer mediation helps young people develop their conflict resolution skills. Children are given the tools to respond calmly and proficiently to situations that are high tension or traumatic. It also motivates them to resolve conflict collaboratively, discussing issues without resorting to physical or emotional violence. It empowers students to resolve their own conflicts, giving them a forum to air their grievances in a controlled manner while facing responsibility for their actions.
Self-esteem is increased through peer mediation. Mediators realise that they can make a difference in people’s lives by helping others evaluate their decisions. It gives participants a sense of control as they process and work through their behavior. It gives them critical insight into behaviour and asserts that conflicts are complex and nuanced things, not always right or wrong but a build up of separate issues.
It is no surprise that peer mediation manages to ensure preventative measures through teaching skills of conflict resolution. These skills, in turn, allow students to deal with conflict before they escalate to a violent outcome. This ensures that there is a greater communication between students and the faculty, which has a positive effect on school life.
Despite their being many positives to peer mediation, there are some, limited, drawbacks. The biggest issue with peer mediation is lack of resources. Student mediators require 10 to 20 hours of training, according to Leah Jones-Bamman, Chair of the Peer Mediation Standards Committee of the Association for Conflict Resolution. To achieve this training, resources must be purchased and personnel hired to deliver training - not something every school can afford.
Another issue, raised by William Haft and Elaine Weiss of Harvard University, is that there is no concrete evaluation of peer mediation programs. Every school is different and has a student population with varied issues. Finding equivalent schools and control groups to compare results with can be taxing and, thus, findings are very pointed.
Can Peer Mediation Be Used Outside of Schools?
Peer mediation can work in any organisation that has a controlled setting and structure. Whether you have a school, youth club, or youth group, peer mediation can be used as a tool to encourage communication, reduce continued tension, and develop conflict resolution within peer groups.
Peer Mediation and the STARS Project
CRJI offers the STARS Project to help communities develop restorative justice among adults and peer mediation for younger people. The STARS initiative offers one on one mentoring support, restorative training, and other programs that aid with peer mediation through teaching restorative practices to implement in work and life situations.
Interested in the STARS Project and peer mediation? Get in touch with CRJI today to start transforming your youth groups today.