By Steven G. Mehta
Many news stories have tragically addressed the issue of two pre-teenage boys who committed suicide because they were bullied.These stories focus on the child and the things that parents and schools did to avoid the problem.One thing that more schools need to do to avoid such problems of bullying, conflict resolution, and dispute management is the concept of peer mediation.
Peer mediation is a strategy that teaches student mediators strategies to help resolve conflict among their peers. Peer mediation can be instituted at any age in school from early elementary to high school.In peer mediation, students are trained as conflict managers.They learn ways to solve problems and to assist their peers in settling disputes in a way that everyone can live with.Peer mediation helps to keep manyminor incidents from escalating over time into more serious incidents.
One of the advantages of peer mediation, is the fact that in the case of a dispute, the disputing parties’ peers are helping to resolve the dispute instead of a parent or teacher.The students, with the assistance of the peer mediator, learn how they can resolve the dispute themselves in a peaceful fashion.In addition, several social studies have found that children are often influenced by their peers more than their parents.According to Nancy Kaplan, in an article originally published by School Safety, Winter 1996, entitled aStudent mediation: opportunity and challengea teaching students to employ conflict resolution skills produces significant results in decreasing school confrontations and violence.