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Peer Mediation in Schools
Welcome to the December issue of The School
This month's issue features the words of a high
school senior who writes that peer mediation changed
her life. Please send along your
thoughts; we love hearing from you.
Wishing you a wonderful holiday season,
Founder and Director
School Mediation Associates
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|"Peer Mediation Helped Me Turn My Life Around"
I recently received a copy of Meghan Lennon's
essay, in which she describes how peer mediation
changed her life. It was sent to me by Randi
peer mediation coordinator/Spanish teacher at
High School in Massachusetts. Meghan is one of
Of course, we all hope that peer mediation has a
profound and lasting impact upon our students.
But having lived through the early days of peer
mediation, when everything from a decrease in
suspension rates to smoother skin was attributed
program, I hesitate to credit peer mediation with
benefit beyond effectively resolving
As you can read below, Meghan was at a turning
point in her life when she found peer mediation.
Thankfully, the program was a catalyst for an
transformation. But if she had instead joined
the band, or devoted herself to field hockey, or
working at a day care center, would she have
her essay about how the saxophone helped
It's possible. But there is no doubt that young
learn unique and vital lessons from peer
mediation. I use
the expression "no doubt" advisedly: according
meta analysis of 43 separate studies of the
peer mediation (published in the Fall 2003 issue
Conflict Resolution Quarterly*) we now have
quantitative proof of the
positive impact peer mediation has upon students
Among other benefits, the research clearly
students demonstrate a "substantial increase in
academic performance," as well as "improved
self-esteem," after becoming a mediator.
This confirms the qualitative, anecdotal
evidence--like Meghan's essay--that we have had
In the margin of Meghan's essay, Randi scribbled
Meghan was a "party" at the mediation table at
three times before becoming a mediator. At every
intake, I experienced her as hostile and even
arrogant--she wanted no part of mediation!
She has since done a complete turn-around. Her
even came up to me on Parent's Night to thank the
program for the "change" in Meghan.
Testimonials like this make it all worthwhile.
Amen to that. Read for yourself.
A Life Changing Experience, by Meghan
Throughout the past three years at Woburn High
I feel I have had many life changing events come
I've had good things happen along with some bad
I have met people who have helped me, and lost
close to me. Anything you can think of, from
inspiring, I have been through. It has all
played a huge
part in the way I view things today.
One experience in particular had a huge impact on
was being accepted as a peer mediator.
Starting high school as a freshman, I was trying
where I fit in, just like everyone else. I ended
those kids that every parent hates. I got into
both in and out of school. My schoolwork and my
level both slowly dropped. Each year seemed to
intense, till my junior year began.
Over the intercom, it was announced that the
program was looking for some new mediators. It
interesting, but why would I get chosen? Besides,
being through mediation a couple of times, I
not think it was the thing for me.
Eventually I decided to give it a shot. I
thought of all
the times I had let my mom and dad down, and
that this would be an awesome way to prove to
that I could accomplish something really
went for an interview and it went well, although
I still did
not think that anyone would be interested in what
I did end up being chosen. It was an awesome
My parents were proud, and so was I.
After being accepted, the other new mediators and
went through three days of intense training. We
role-played, played games, and talked a lot about
views on many subjects. As a group, we were
diverse; yet, there were a lot of familiar faces.
There was no one [in the training] that I had
before, but I did have opinions about certain
am sure they were all wondering why someone like
was chosen, being such a "troublemaker" and all.
I got to know a lot of people, and I also learned
"can't judge a book by its cover." Learning to
people for who they are was only the beginning.
Becoming a mediator has totally helped me change
outlook on everything.
When I mediate, I look across the table and see
sitting there. That makes me really thankful
that I was
given this opportunity, because I have the chance
help people like myself. I feel I have a lot to
all my past experiences, and that my knowledge
helped me greatly.
Becoming a peer mediator definitely was not the
to all of my problems, but it did open doors for
Mostly everything has improved: my schoolwork,
behavior, personality, even my everyday life.
I don't regret my past decisions. I feel they
helped me make better ones. Upon reflection,
program is what helped me better myself, and what
helped me turn my life around.
(NOTE: Meghan's essay was published with her
permission. We thank her and wish her luck.)
Please send your thoughts...
*Receiving Conflict Resolution Quarterly
membership in the Association for Conflict
Follow the link below to find out more about ACR.
The Association for Conflict Resolution
|Response to "Mediating Spirit"
| ||We received many responses to
last month's issue of The School Mediator about mediation and
spirituality. I have posted a number of them below:
When tenderness is allowed in the
mediation process, understanding is reached. All the
walls come crumbling down. Tenderness is allowed
through careful and thoughtful questions, welcome
silences, and the basic principles which are threaded
throughout transformative mediating.
When this happens, it is so significantly spiritual to me.
Another force is present when we allow ourselves to be
still and open to the process. I couldn't agree with you
Kiley Middle School
Springfield, MA USA
This is very exciting and right on target. I'm so glad you
wrote about this and hope you get a good response. I
think this is the direction mediation, and all peace-work
for that matter, needs to take.
New Jersey, USA
Thank you for your newsletter. I will be glad to receive
the future. My job here in conflict management involves
many areas of conflict and I would be interested to
maintain communication on mediation issues.
I have just come back from a workshop in Istanbul on
Greek-Turkish relations, and the terrible bombings
occurred while we were there.
I feel the only security is to fight back with peaceful and
spiritual ways, and to keep our hope that education can
make a difference.
Thanks for your most recent newsletter concerning
mediation and spirituality. It is a topic both large and
dear, so I'm happy that you took the time to share your
thoughts about it.
Reading your reflections on the desire that we all have to
live in peace, and the role that meeting basic needs has
in that, brings to mind Marshall Rosenberg's work.
Rosenberg, a long-time mediator and communication
teacher, believes that most any conflict can be resolved
relatively quickly after people have been able to clearly
articulate and hear each others' needs.
Our mediation staff has begun a weekly practice group in
Rosenberg's Nonviolent Communication. The first week
led us to a rich discussion of "giving from the heart."
Today I spent a half hour on the phone with an excited
school principal. He had just empowered a third grader,
who had complained about the school's lunchroom
seating policy, to begin a process to change that policy.
By encouraging leadership and supporting this child's
passion and sense of social justice, the principal is
Non-violent, compassionate communication is a way of
life. The practice of mediation is one of its tools.
I am grateful to be in a involved in work that is one with
my spiritual practice.
The Mediation & Training Collaborative
Greenfield, MA USA
I want to inform you that in June this year, our
organization introduced peer mediation into six school in
one of the most violent areas of Sierra Leone. The
schools and administration are so open and welcoming,
and they have found this very relevant as part of school
I am responsible to follow with them until they are well
established. I also have some 14 secondary schools in
that district waiting for the introduction of peer
mediation, and I am responsible for seeking funding for
I just finished printing the November issue of The
School Mediator to share with my mediation class.
As it came off the printer, and I began to read it, I
couldn't believe my eyes! I started teaching mediation
20 years ago: to students here at Salem State, and to
police and business people. Now I feel I have finally
found some peers.
Last year I discovered the book "The Promise of
Mediation" by Bush and Folger. I now use it in my class.
It is the only book that I have found that discusses the
transformative nature of mediation.
In addition, as a part of my class, I teach students Dr.
Benson/Kabat-Zinn mindful meditative listening. They
always receive it very well.
Salem State College
Salem, MA USA
I'm a 52 years old graduate student in Family Studies in
the Applied Conflict Management Department at Kent
State and that is how I connected with your work.
Your thoughtful and self-revealing article about mediation
as a spiritual practice adds to my growing excitement
that a major paradigm shift is about to occur, one in
which the majority of humans on the planet will see
themselves and others as inherently good and seeking
A. Margaret Pevec
Graduate Student in Family Studies
Kent State University, Ohio USA
| ||For almost twenty years, School Mediation Associates
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mediation in schools. SMA's mission is to transform
schools into safer, more caring, and more effective
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