Just Schools: A Whole School Approach to Restorative Justice

By Belinda Hopkins | Go to book overview

Chapter 5
Repairing Harm Through Mediation

Restorative justice provides the opportunity for both parties to feel com-
fortable and leave the situation empowered.

Year Head, Secondary School

This chapter describes a process of mediation that can be used in schools between people of all ages. It relates the skills needed to facilitate this process to those already described in previous chapters and discusses what other skills are needed. It also highlights the potential differences between mediating between people in conflict and mediating when harm has been caused (and responsibility for this harm acknowledged) by at least one of the people in the process. In the world beyond the school gates the former is often used in neighbourhood disputes by community mediation services and the latter by services supporting victims and offenders. In my experience these differences are often blurred in school, and responsibility can shift as the plot thickens and more is revealed.

The chapter suggests opportunities for using mediation in the school context and also refers to real examples of how mediation is currently being used in schools in the UK.

Training issues are considered at the end of the chapter, relating these to what has already been described in earlier chapters.


What is mediation?

Mediation is a process in which people in conflict are supported by a neutral third party (or parties) to hear each other's story and find a mutually acceptable way forward. It gives people the opportunity to appreciate the impact of their behaviour on other people, whether this behaviour was wilfully harmful or inadvertently so. Peer mediation is the term given to this process when the mediators are young people mediating their peers. A key principle of mediation is that the people with the conflict are the ones best placed to find ways forward. Imposed solutions do not necessarily address the underlying resentment and

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