Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Class Switch: Mediate Rather Than Fight

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Class Switch: Mediate Rather Than Fight

Article excerpt

Two sixth-grade girls are involved in a pushing match in a school restroom at lunchtime - what follows is not a fight, but a resolution to end one as the combatants sit down to discuss their actions with fellow students trained to mediate such disputes.

This was the scenario during a conflict resolution demonstration recently by students at Jamestown Elementary School, 13750 Old Jamestown Road. The students demonstrated the skills and tact they have learned as members of "Jamestown Provides Peace," a conflict resolution group.

The students performed before the school's citizens advisory committee.

The program is in its third year with "positive results" according to Rose Roggow, a counselor at Jamestown.

"Conflict is a natural human state," she said. "Students tend to deal with conflict within the confines of their own limited experience, which often results in fighting and continued hostility."

Roggow said students can learn positive approaches to dealing with conflict that will result in personal growth and peaceful conflict resolution. Suspension and expulsions from school should be a last resort, she said.

"What has been missing," Roggow said, "is a structured `first resort' to fighting which can help students solve their problems in the beginning stages, before it results in physical contact."

Program goals are to:

Reduce the number of conflicts in the school setting (classroom, cafeteria, hallway, outside on school grounds).

Increase self-esteem by empowering students to resolve conflicts in a way that is satisfactory for them.

Teach conflict resolution skills that students can use outside of school and for the rest of their lives.

Share with students the responsibility of creating a positive school environment, free of strife and violence.

Steve Jenkins, who works as a conflict management specialist for the continuing education department of the University of Missouri at St. …

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