Frequently Asked Questions

What is school-based peer mediation?

Peer mediation is facilitated deliberation that helps students in conflict resolve their disputes and create their own solutions, using shared problem-solving within a school setting. Trained peer mediators serve as neutral third parties to help participants reach an agreement that is both mutually fair and reasonable.

What does the peer mediation process look like?

The peer mediation process is voluntary, confidential, informal, respectful and impartial. Most importantly, peer mediation puts conflict back into the hands of the students, giving them a sense of ownership of their problems, and creating within them an investment in collaborative resolution processes.

When a case is referred to peer mediation, the case will generally go through a basic intake/development process to determine if the conflict is appropriate for mediation and if the students referred are willing to participate in a peer mediation session. If the students agree to the participate, a session is scheduled that consists of the following steps:
  1. An agreement to mediate and a foundation of ground rules,
  2. The sharing of perspectives,
  3. Defining the problem,
  4. Generating and evaluating potential solutions, focusing on interests, rather than positions, and
  5. Composing and signing a written agreement.
Each participant will evaluate the peer mediation process at the conclusion of the session, and peer mediation program staff or coordinators will use these evaluations to follow up with students to address any questions/concerns and to, after a week or two, inquire into the durability of and satisfaction with the mediation agreement.

What kind of disputes can be resolved through peer mediation?

School-based peer mediation is most commonly used to help resolve issues that directly affect student relationships, such as:
  • School rumors/ gossip
  • Social networking and other Internet-based provocations
  • Dissolution of friendships or romantic relationships
  • Minor bullying/harassment
  • Cheating on schoolwork
  • Property theft
  • Vandalism
  • Confrontations that result from differences in race, culture, sexuality, religion, status, etc.
Not all conflict cases are appropriate for peer mediation. Case types that should be immediately referred to school counselors, administration and/or outside authorities, as each individual school’s policies dictate, include:
  • Drug abuse/possession
  • Weapon use/possession
  • Sexual, physical or emotional abuse/assault
  • Suicide threats or attempts
  • Any issue that might interfere with current or pending legal action or judicial rulings (such as restraining orders, etc.)
Additionally, if evidence or threats of abuse or any other indication of eminent danger to the safety of either participants or peer mediators emerges during the mediation session, students must be trained to immediately report such threats to the Program Coordinator or other designated school representative for proper handling. This important aspect of student safety is covered more in-depth in the Peer Mediators training curriculum.

How do students become peer mediators?

A vast majority of successful peer mediation programs make a conscious effort to train a balanced, diverse group of peer mediators. Peer mediators should ideally represent the student body in terms of gender, race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, academic standing and ability levels, so that all students feel comfortable, accepted and safe using the program. There are a variety of ways in which peer mediators can be chosen: a) the student body nominates their peers, b) the faculty and staff nominate students, c) student volunteers are solicited/self-nominate, or d) some combination of the first three approaches. We recommend that a selection committee be used to handle recruitment and nominations of peer mediators. This selection committee might consist of current peer mediators or student leaders, teachers/faculty, administration, parents, and/or the program coordinator.

Once selected, peer mediators are trained in a core set of conflict resolution skills, such as active listening, neutrality and brainstorming, and given lots of interactive practice in the mediation process itself via conflict resolution role plays. It is suggested that a Junior High/Middle School Peer Mediation Program training should consist of 12-20 initial training hours at the beginning of the school year, and 12 or more continuing education hours throughout each academic year. After satisfactorily demonstrating competence in peer mediation skills and practices, students are then able to begin offering the services to the student body.

Who can request peer mediation?

Referrals or requests for peer mediation may come from administrators, staff/faculty, other students, or as self-referrals. Some schools may wish to extend their peer mediation referral systems out to parents, as well.

What are the benefits of having a peer mediation program in your school?

Programs such as peer mediation can provide students with opportunities to test the consequences of their own decisions as implemented in their school community. Some of the most commonly identified benefits of peer mediation at the school level are:
  • The resolution of minor disputes that interfere with the education process.
  • A stronger sense of cooperation and school community is achieved and school climate is improved through decreasing tension and hostility, and reducing the time that faculty and administration spend settling disputes.
  • Peer mediators and students who participate in peer mediation programming have been shown to demonstrate improved self-esteem and improved positive status amongst their peer group, as well as improved academic confidence.
  • Peer mediators develop communication and leadership skills, as well as practical life skills. They often carry these skill sets beyond the school doors and into their families and communities, as well, helping to resolve problems more effectively than before.
Perhaps the most beneficial aspect of Peer Mediation programming, however, is the individualized, empowering experience that it offers to each student who utilizes it to resolve a conflict. Students are empowered to resolve their conflicts independently and responsibly, without adult intervention, which is a significant milestone for youth development.

What is the Peer Mediators curriculum and what’s included?

Peer Mediators: A Complete School Curriculum (Grades 6-8) serves as a valuable and extensive collection of peer mediation training tools and resources. We have compiled common program and training objectives from over a dozen peer mediation curricula nationwide and have drawn from various standards of training, evaluation and best practices guidelines in order to establish a thorough program package. Peer Mediators consists of six elements to help you develop, train and maintain a successful peer mediation program in your school:
  • A 30 -minute DVD with an introduction to the program and sample training and program vignettes.
  • A 90-page Program Implementation Guide, complete with handy checklists, assessments and program forms.
  • A 30-hour online "Train the Trainer" course in conflict and mediation theory, practice and engagement, along with a "how-to" train the Peer Mediators program.
  • A 230-page Trainer's Manual, complete with tips, program forms and over 100 detailed activities, each with objectives, materials, time frames and easy to follow training instructions included.
  • A student workbook that can be customized to fit the needs of each training group.
  • This website designed to help provide networking and support to all participants.

How is the Peer Mediators curriculum different from other peer mediation programs?

The Peer Mediators curriculum serves as an extensive and accessible collection of peer mediation training tools and resources. We began developing this program by compiling the common training objectives of peer mediation curricula nationwide and drew from various standards of training and best practices guidelines (Including the Recommended Standards for School-Based Peer Mediation Programs put forth by the Association for Conflict Resolution in 2011) in order to establish a thorough training outline. Based on this outline, we then collected well-established peer mediation training activities and developed innovative new ones to suit and supplement each learning objective. The Peer Mediators curriculum represents the collected hours, expertise and efforts of dozens of peer mediation trainers, practitioners and researchers nationwide, brought together for the first time to design a comprehensive peer mediation training curriculum that can be used, customized and applied in nearly any school in the country. Additionally, we offer thePeer Mediators curriculum for FREE, opening up training opportunities to junior high schools that wish to have peer mediation programs but may not currently have the trainers or resources available or in place to do so.

What if I have further questions or need assistance implementing the Peer Mediators program in my school?

Most accessibly, you are invited to join the interactive online discussion forum. This forum is a place for school administrators and faculty members who are utilizing or simply interested in the Peer Mediators curriculum. It is also a convening place for the Peer Mediators curriculum creators and local conflict guides. After becoming a member of the forum, you can ask questions, seek additional resources, and share in the group's wisdom. If you need specific consulting assistance related to Peer Mediators, please feel free to contact us directly to discuss your needs.