What are we currently doing to prevent school violence? Active shooter drills, metal detectors and armed resource officers are becoming more commonplace on school campuses. California State University Professor Stephen Brock stated, “If you create a place where kids feel that adults care about them as a person and want to connect with them, it increases the probability that if there is going to be an act of violence, then adults will know about it and act to stop it” (Brodsky, 2016). One approach to preventing gun violence is to create a change in mindset from reactionary to prevention policies (Interdisciplinary Group on Preventing School and Community Violence, 2018). It’s important to first identify and then address the causative factors. A wide variety of studies have found that peer mediation is a promising strategy for improving school climate. According to attorney and mediator Jeanne Asherman, (2002), conflict resolution skills, like peer mediation, should be included in school curriculum and discipline protocols to decrease potential violence. In the peer mediation process, students are trained as neutral parties who facilitate a conversation between their peers to peacefully resolve a conflict. Students sit down with the peer mediators and address their concerns, such as name-calling, rumors, isolation, or destruction of property. There is evidence that mediation can lead to fewer fights, a reduction in office referrals, and decreased rates of suspension. Also, mediation has been shown to increase self-esteem and academic achievement.
Find out more about including peer mediation in your school from conflict resolution educators, Darcy Thompson and Cynthia Morton.
Darcy Thompson, M.Ed., is a retired educator and experienced Texas Mediator Credentialing Association Credentialed Advanced Mediator. She has successfully facilitated hundreds of challenging meetings among teachers, parents and professional staff during nearly thirty years in public education. She has also mediated high conflict civil and church disputes. Currently, Darcy is a member of several organizations including the Texas Association of Mediators; the Association for Conflict Resolution, Houston Chapter (board member); and the Texas Mediation Trainers Roundtable. Darcy’s focus is in the areas of civil disputes and peer mediation training.
Cynthia Morton, Ed.D., is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), National Certified Counselor (NCC) and registered mediator who coordinates the Rockdale County Schools Peer Mediation Program. Currently, Dr. Morton serves as the co-coordinator for the Online Peer Mediation Platform. She is trained as a CINERGY Conflict Coach, Transformative Mediator, Truancy Mediator, and a Workplace Conflict Management Trainer. Dr. Morton holds memberships in the Georgia Licensed Professional Counseling Association, the National Association of Peer Program Professionals, the Association for Conflict Resolution, and the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation.
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