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Big Sister Peer Mediation

November 29, 2012 at 11:31 AM

Conflict is something that all of our students will experience at times, it’s part of growing up. Sometimes life can feel difficult and depressing, however, it can also be a learning opportunity and lead to experiences that can help children develop and grow. Conflict can be an opportunity for self-growth and a chance to see that win – win solutions to conflict can be negotiated. Young people can learn skills to solve their own problems if given the training, trust and opportunity to do so.

The Cool Schools Peer Mediation Programme has been developed by the Foundation for Peace Studies in conjunction with Students and Teachers Educating for Peace (Step) and Mobile Peace Van. It was first trialled in 1991 and fully implemented in 1992 and is now widely used throughout New Zealand in primary and intermediate schools. This programme sees students receive special training to enable them to act as third party mediators between two or more of their peers who are caught up in a conflict and want to see it resolved constructively, that is, with both parties able to support and live with the solution.

The outcomes of Peer Mediation can be:

  • Increase in self-esteem – students in the programme enjoy increased status in their role as peer mediators
  • Learning Skills - mediation teaches the following learning skills: listening, negotiating, problem-solving and critical thinking
  • Mediation emphasises that perspectives are not right or wrong but different. Mediation teaches young people to look for different perspectives in conflicts, and to seek solutions which cater for all perspectives involved.
  • According to research carried out by Naomi Drew (2004 p.7) the ‘Girl’s Top5 List of Conflict Starters between Friends’ are:
    • Gossip, rumours
    • Having secrets told
    • Boyfriends
    • Feeling jealous or left out
    • Mean remarks behind people’s backs

We understand that it is important to promote conflict resolution in our School and this term we have established the ‘Cool Schools Peer Mediation’ programme by training our Year 8 girls as peer mediators. They have begun working in the playground at interval and lunchtime in the role as ‘Big Sisters’.

The purpose of ‘Big Sisters’ is to provide peer mediation, to give students the opportunity to communicate and allow them to find solutions to their disputes or problems. Every day, two Year 8 girls take on the role of ‘Big Sisters.’ They spend their interval and lunchtime organising games for those who want to join in, looking out for anyone who appears sad or left-out and are also available for any girl who needs someone to talk to, needs advice or is having a problem with another girl.

We see the role of ‘Big Sisters’ as an important one in our School. It is important that all of our younger students know there is always someone who will include them in games, give them a hug when they need it, or be that ‘older person’ that they can look up to. Although this has only been in operation a short time, the ‘Big Sisters’ are being kept busy running lunchtime games and making themselves available. They will run assemblies during the year to role play conflict resolution and to reinforce the skills that they are learning so that these skills can be passed on to all year levels.

The girls learn what sort of conflicts they are able to deal with and those that require adult assistance. They also keep a record of the girls they help to gain feedback on what happened and how they dealt with it. This review process allows us to keep track of what is happening in our playground and to identify any issues that need further discussion or groups of students who require further skills.

Sandra Hastie, Principal

References:
Drew N.M.A The Kid’s Guide to Working Out Conflicts – How to keep cool, stay safe and get along 2004 Free Spirit Publishing Inc Minneapolis

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