Peer Mediation Program Debuts at Penn South Middle School

Pennridge South Middle School recent­ly intro­duced its first-ever Peer Mediation Program, an effort that allows stu­dents to help oth­er stu­dents solve con­flicts.

Too often when stu­dents have con­flicts, the adults step in and solve the prob­lem for them,” said Penn South Principal Dr. Felicia McAllister, “Not only does this give young­sters the mes­sage that they can’t solve the prob­lem on their own, but often the adult’s solu­tion doesn’t work.”

The idea behind Peer Mediation, said the prin­ci­pal, is that the stu­dents expe­ri­enc­ing con­flict fig­ure out how to solve the prob­lem with prompt­ing from the medi­a­tors. Mediators do not give advice or tell them what to do but use prob­ing ques­tions to guide them in arriv­ing at their own solu­tions, she said.

Group of middle school students sitting casually on the floor.Dr. McAllister said she has seen sim­i­lar pro­grams have pos­i­tive effects in the Allentown, Owen J. Roberts and Upper Merion Area school dis­tricts.

Twenty-nine 7th and 8th graders were select­ed from var­i­ous facets of the stu­dent body to serve as medi­a­tors for the 2018–19 school year with advi­sors Andrea Plumley and Megan McCauley. The stu­dents spent two full school days train­ing with attor­ney David Trevaskis, who has trained thou­sands of medi­a­tors through his Project PEACE pro­gram. They learned about the ratio­nale for medi­at­ing, the com­mon pit­falls and how to effec­tive­ly run a medi­a­tion group.

The pro­gram was intro­duced to the stu­dent body in three sep­a­rate grade lev­el assem­blies. Once the stu­dent body under­stands the process, stu­dents will be able to request medi­a­tion through a paper form or a dig­i­tal form. Any stu­dent is able to take part in the medi­a­tion process if they choose since this is strict­ly a vol­un­tary pro­gram and all par­ties must be will­ing to par­tic­i­pate.

Oen sit­u­a­tion has already been addressed through peer medi­a­tion, said Dr. McAllister.

We are thrilled to bring this pro­gram to South Middle School,” she said.