Academic journal article Journal of School Health

A Review of Selected School-Based Conflict Resolution and Peer Mediation Projects

Academic journal article Journal of School Health

A Review of Selected School-Based Conflict Resolution and Peer Mediation Projects

Article excerpt

Interpersonal violence among youth represents a major problem across the United States. Homicide victimization and perpetration rates for young males ages 15-19 increased substantially since 1985.[1] Similarly, physical fighting, weapon carrying, assaults, robberies, and sexual assaults are too common among youth.[2] As violence becomes a more prevalent concern for society, safety at school becomes an issue as well.

To create a safer atmosphere at school and to contribute, to broader efforts within the community to reduce violence, a large but unknown number of U.S. schools have implemented projects to reduce interpersonal violence among youth. Estimates place the number of schools adopting some form of violence prevention training at more than 5,000.[3] These efforts provide cognitive-behavioral and social skills training on various topics using sundry methods.

Although other terms sometimes are used for the projects, they commonly are referred to as conflict resolution and peer mediation (CR/PM) training. While conflict resolution and peer mediation often are talked about and implemented together, they differ. Conflict resolution training, as commonly implemented and as used in this paper, provides training to an entire class, grade, or school. In contrast, peer mediation training is provided to a few selected students. In general, conflict resolution projects teach students to manage anger, control aggressive responses, understand conflict, and avoid and diffuse potentially physically violent confrontations. Peer mediation projects train a few selected students to mediate disputes between other students. Student mediators are taught to remain impartial. They generally are the same age as the disputants. Both conflict resolution and peer mediation allow students to settle disagreements peacefully among themselves.

Over the past decade, public health workers have become increasingly concerned and involved in efforts to reduce the morbidity and mortality caused by interpersonal violence.[4,5] The numerous types of violence and the manner in which many of its causes are imbedded deeply in the social fabric preclude simple solutions. The public health community, however, brings several important interests and skills to the arena including a primary focus on prevention; a concern for violent injuries not part of criminal activity such as fights among students; a set of practical, goal-oriented practices including surveillance, epidemiologic analysis, and program evaluation; and the ability to collaborate with a wide spectrum of disciplines.[4] As part of the public health community's involvement in violence prevention activities, some state health departments have provided funds to help schools implement CR/PM projects.

Presently, limited documentation exists on the implementation and success of these projects. The curricula, materials, teacher and student training, and role of the project coordinator (if any), may vary widely, with presumably varying results. The magnitude of the youth violence problem, the financial cost associated with implementing school-based CR/PM projects, and the many hours devoted to these activities by students and faculty, demand that effective methods and their role in larger programs be determined. Recent reviews of school-based projects[6] and of youth violence prevention efforts in general[7] emphasize the importance for more research and evaluation of existing and future projects. The limited amount of evidence of success has caused some to question the value of CR/PM projects.[8]

PROJECT SUMMARIES BY STATE

The following section reviews retrospectively the status of CR/PM projects at nine schools in four states. Projects were supported by grants from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control to state health departments to conduct general injury prevention activities. Tabular data summarizing these projects may be obtained from the first author. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.