Peer Mediation Program
A Parent’s Guide to
Scarsdale, New York
What is peer mediation?
The goal of the peer mediation program is to have children help other children work through typical recess conflicts and disputes. The helping children, known as Peer Mediators, are volunteer 4th and 5th graders who have been specially trained in mediating disagreements. The Peer Mediators are not “bosses of the playground” nor are they referees. They do not intercede when they see children playing and do not break up fights. Instead, children who are having an argument or disagreement themselves choose to seek the Peer Mediators out for help. The Peer Mediators, working in teams of two and identified by their bright orange vests, listen to both sides of the story and work to help the children themselves peacefully and logically resolve their issues. There is no finger pointing, no “he’s right and he’s wrong.” Everyone has a chance to state their case and work towards a logical resolution of the problem. This is truly a “kids helping kids” program.
How do we understand conflict?
- Conflict is a disagreement between two or more people or groups; it is not necessarily good or bad, it is merely a fact of life.
- Conflict can be handled in productive or destructive ways.
- Conflict can result in higher achievement, greater creativity and better relationships.
- Conflict can be positive.
- Ignoring conflict does not make it go away. Fighting usually makes it worse.
- Negative conflict hurts people.
Who are the student mediators?
The Student Mediators have attended special classes in learning what mediation is, and how to make it work for their fellow students and themselves at Heathcote. They take their jobs very seriously. The Peer Mediators will always work in teams of two during lunch recess and will rotate shifts throughout the week. They also attend meetings to talk about how their jobs are going and how to do even better. The teacher aides, along with Mr. Goldberg, have been trained to understand the purpose of the Peer Mediation program and remain in their regular jobs monitoring lunch recess.
What happens when a dispute is too complex for the student mediators to handle?
If children on the playground bring a problem to the Peer Mediators that is clearly too complicated for them to handle, the Mediators are trained to immediately alert an adult.
How has the staff been prepared?
A significant number of our staff has attended training on conflict resolution and Peer Mediation from a company called Educators for Social Responsibility. All staff has attended meetings discussing the program at Heathcote.
What are the benefits from bringing peer mediation to Heathcote?
- Students become active problem solvers.
- Peer mediation empowers children to find resolutions for their issues.
- The program leads to greater commitment to making solutions work.
- The peer mediation model provides positive examples for solving conflicts.
- Students recognize adult intervention is not always necessary.
- The process encourages students to share their feelings and find positive ways to satisfy their needs.
- Students learn communication skills which are valuable in all relationships.
- Students have opportunities to help and collaborate with others.
- All members of the community benefit when students make ethical, constructive choices about personal and social behavior
Why have we chosen to bring peer mediation to Heathcote School?
The idea of bringing the Peer Mediation program to Heathcote began as a Compact Team initiative, sparked by the district’s “Circle of Friends”program. The fundamental goal of the team was to improve and promote children’s social and emotional development. The Peer Mediation Program provides a structure that fosters and supports respectful and caring relationships where students are empowered to resolve conflicts successfully.