8.4 Why mediation clubs in schools?

Unresolved conflicts, verbal or physical aggression can significantly worsen the atmosphere in a class. Often, a quarrel during a break which has not been solved distracts the attention of the affected students in class. Another “classic” situation: the teacher observes a fight between two students intervenes but does not have the time to pacify it because the school bell rings.  All of these cases can lead to frustration and anger or a continuation of the quarrel during the next break and after school. Teachers often feel frustrated because of the missing time to thoroughly deal with the problem. 5)

In order to establish and support a constructive conflict resolution approach in schools it is advantageous to get students actively involved and experience the enhancement of their skills.  So, there can be a mutual benefit for both teachers and students: students learn how to improve their competencies (conflict resolution, empathy); teachers are relieved in their daily tasks. Solutions which have been developed by the quarreling parties themselves are more likely to be successful than a decision of a teacher.  Students are empowered to take care of their own problems with the help of peers. Louisa, a peer mediator from a school in Bonn states: “We want that everybody feels comfortable at school. Young people are able to mediate, not only adults.”  6) and Špela, a peer mediator in Maribor, adds: “Mediation is a process where we learn how to calmly and effectively solve a disagreement between people. It teaches us how to see the other person’s perspective. We learned different techniques how to help them solve their problem. Role plays which we used to practice the mediation process were based on actual disagreements happening in our lives. The concept of mediation used to be strange for us because it is unusual for our schools and dorms but I think it can be a useful tool to solve conflicts. The introduction of a mediation club can contribute to an improvement of the school climate.”