Peer mediation is a process by which children and young people themselves help their peers resolve conflict in a constructive, non-violent way. It involves two trained mediators helping their peers deal with conflict through a series of mediation steps. It can be used for children and young people of all ages. The conflicts can include fights in the playground, rumour-spreading, or different types of bullying behaviour. During peer mediation disagreements are faced and brought out into the open with the help of the peer mediators. Importantly, shared understanding and agreements are worked toward through careful exploration of the conflict.
Peer mediation services can be set up in schools (primary and secondary), youth organisations or other relevant settings. The most common setting for them in Scotland is schools, but a number of organisations, and a few residential settings also have peer mediation services. We (The Scottish Mediation Network) have also had experience with implementing peer mediation within settings of looked-after and foster children and young people.
Peer mediation services can be used to address existing issues and concerns within schools and youth settings, e.g. conflict, disruptive or aggressive behaviour among pupils, bullying, racism/sexism, or negative group/gang mentality. At the same time peer mediation also enhances strengths and builds resilience among children and young people who are involved in it. Among other things it cultivates leadership skills, communication skills, cooperation skills, confidence and tolerance. As such it is helpful and beneficial to all children and young people.
“I believe in peer mediation because I see the difference it makes for pupils every day, and I believe it’s a really important thing for our school to take forward”
– Jill Honeyman, Head of Guidance, Baldragon Academy, Runner-Up for LEAP Confronting Conflict Award 2015
“Peer mediation has had a huge impact on the school, not just in the development of skills the children have in being able to deal with conflict but also in building their confidence and capacity to take those skills and use them throughout life”
– Jill Linsday, Depute Head Teacher, Auchinraith Primary