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.
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.