8.3 The concept of peer mediation

Peer mediation is based on the assumption and experience that (older) students can assist (younger) students to solve their problem in a facilitated process, the mediation. 8th or 9th graders participate in a training which enables them to conduct mediation on their own. The training comprises approximately 30 hours in which the students deal with the following topics:

  • Definition of conflicts, conflict escalation model, conflict behavior patterns, personal conflict style;
  • The five phases of mediation, the mindset of a mediator.

The procedure is trained in intensive role plays with a subsequent evaluation, key skills e.g. active listening are practiced in different exercises.

Five phases of the mediation process 4)

  1. Opening statement (welcoming of parties, procedure, agreement on ground rules)
  2. Viewpoints and issues: How does each party view the conflict? (parties express their point of view)
  3. Understanding the conflict (what are the deeper issues? Feelings, needs and interests of parties, encouragement to change perspectives)
  4. Looking for possible solutions: Who can offer what?  (Parties develop possible solutions)
  5. Agreement and closing (Parties agree on a solution, written or verbal contract, mediator wishes them well)

Usually, two students form a mediation team. Although a lot of adult mediators work on their own this is not advised in case of students conducting mediation.

A key point of the training will be the attitude or mind set of a mediator. In many cases adults and students tend to judge situations quickly: right or wrong, just or unjust, victim or offender.  Being a mediator means to take a neutral position, not to judge and not to be one-sided. In case one of the peer mediators is a friend of a participating party another student should replace him/her.