Lessons in Getting Along: Methods Target School Violence, Conflict

By Linda Eardley Of the Post-Dispatch | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), January 28, 1994 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Lessons in Getting Along: Methods Target School Violence, Conflict


Linda Eardley Of the Post-Dispatch, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


Tension boils between two girls over the affection of a boy.

Friends get into a name-calling match after one accuses the other of being a sissy.

Two rival boys bump into each other, and tempers flare.

Before you know it, fists are flying.

Fighting is a leading cause of suspensions from schools in the St. Louis area. And schools are fighting back with "conflict management" programs that teach students how to handle tension before it escalates into violence.

The techniques range from giving tips on handling anger, to rewarding students for every "fight-free" day, to training them to mediate disputes.

Educators say the programs work, reducing the number of fights and giving students skills they can use through life.

The director of pupil personnel in the Parkway district, Linda Tooley, said the programs in her district also reduce suspensions and stress-related referrals to school nurses.

"We work things out like adults," said Kara Townsend, a junior and "peer mediator" at Hazelwood East High School.

Violent Society

As society has become more violent, so have young people. Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala has labeled youth violence "a major public-health crisis." In a national poll a year ago, a majority of suburban and urban school administrators said schools were less safe than five years earlier.

In St. Louis public schools, fighting has been the most common reason for suspension. Last year, the district logged 1,434 suspensions for fighting, or 16 percent of the total.

A growing number of high schools, junior highs and middle schools in the area are training students to be on mediation teams. Mediation follows a set procedure designed to get arguing students to sign a contract to settle their problem.

The process starts when a student reports an argument or disagreement to a teacher, administrator or peer mediator. The student may be a party to the conflict or someone who knows about it.

"Students will say, `Somebody is getting in my face, and if we don't get mediated, there's going to be trouble,' " said Carole Clary, assistant principal at Parkway West High School.

A school official sets up a meeting with the clashing students and two mediators, sitting around a table. An adult is nearby, but not in the room. The students agree to ground rules:

Avoid name-calling and put-downs.

Do not interrupt.

Stay seated.

Work toward a solution.

Be honest.

Keep what is said confidential.

Rather than judging who is right or wrong, the mediators listen and help the others present cases, understand positions and reach a solution acceptable to both.

"Only once in five years have kids left mediation and gone out and got in a fight," Clary said.

Sarah Detweiler, co-president of a student group that handles disputes at Hazelwood East, said mediation often reconciles friends who have fought over "something silly."

"They wouldn't be there if communication was going on," she said.

But once in a while, anger takes over. "We've had to get on the table to get in between two people ready to clash," Detweiler said. At that point, an administrator or counselor might step in.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Lessons in Getting Along: Methods Target School Violence, Conflict
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?