Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The School Counselor's Impact on Conflict

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Bad behavior is popular on television
Is it just me or is violence increasing in our society? Everyday we hear about public shootings, political mud slinging, violent demonstrations, vicious name-calling, and a host of other violent behaviors in the news and social media. I mean look no further than Oxygen's Bad Girls Club where a group of girls move into a mansion to live together. While living in luxury, their altercations and physical confrontations are chronicled on television for people to watch.  So, it seems natural with all the bad behaviors that are modeled on television, movies, and media that our students
gravitate toward fighting as the first solution for solving their own  conflicts.  I mean come on...what student (and some staff members) doesn't enjoy talking about all the hair left in the hallway after a girl fight or gawking at the guy  sitting in handcuffs in the front office.  In fact, in an article by Carrie Craven from Teaching Tolerance, she reveals the main reasons for fights in schools.
  • Fighting in schools provides a safe haven where students believe someone will intervene before someone becomes seriously hurt.
  • Fighting provides social status among a students' peers.
  • Fighting gets the attention of adults that a problem is occurring and the student lacks the ability to solve it.
As a school counselor, it is easy to feel hopeless and unsure of what role we play in reducing school violence and fighting.  Fortunately, there is a movement to involve school counselors in violence prevention strategies by teaching empathy and conflict resolution skills. According to the article, School Counselors and Violence Prevention, school counselors have three roles in violence prevention.These three roles include:

1.  Violence prevention
2.  Violence intervention
3.  Crisis resource

David Cook says that each year we graduate thousands of students who are never exposed to conflict resolution.  In essence, not teaching students how to resolve conflict is to teach that violence is inevitable.   In this blog post, I would like to talk about how school counselors can contribute to violence prevention in schools which can make a direct impact on the school climate.

One suggestion from the Idaho School Counselor Association is that school counselors facilitate programs that prevent school violence. One such program that I am very passionate about is peer mediation. So, what exactly is peer mediation and does it really work?  According to the Resolution Center of Michigan, peer mediation is a "problem solving process by students with students."  In peer mediation, students meet in a private, confidential setting where peer mediators provide a safe environment for the students to solve their own conflict.  Richard Cohen of School Mediation Associates has found  several benefits to peer mediation.  These benefits include:

1. Peer mediation effectively resolves conflicts. In fact, 90% of all peer conflicts are resolved for good.
2. Peer mediation teaches essential workplace skills that are needed in today's global workplace.
3. Peer mediation builds conflict resolution skills which can be transferred to other areas of students' lives.
4. Peer mediation motivates students to collaborate without pulling in adults to solve their issues.
5. Peer mediation empowers students as they learn to resolve their own conflicts.
6. Peer mediation creates more time for learning as students are able to stay in class more often.
7. Peer mediation improves school climate for students and staff.

Are you intrigued to learn more about conflict resolution prevention strategies like peer mediation? I would encourage you to join the Conflict Resolution Day webinar on October 20th.  This webinar will introduce conflict strategies for educators and cover the benefits of peer mediation.  Here is the link below:

http://www.adrhub.com/forum/topics/conflict-resolution-day-free-webinar-on-online-peer-mediation

In addition, you can check out these other blog posts for more information on Conflict Resolution Day strategies for educators.

Thinking about starting a peer mediation program or improving an existing program at your school? Listen to Texas Conflict Coach Blog Radio Blog about the Online Peer Mediation Platform. Also, see this article about the Online Peer Mediation Platform.



What is the Online Peer Mediation Platform?

1.  Assist students in practicing their mediation skills with qualified mentors.
2. Train students to become mediators.
3.  Provide mediation services for schools that lack a mediation program.
4. Maintain a resource clearinghouse of resources and training materials.

Need ideas to promote conflict resolution for students?  Check out my blog post from 2015.

Conflict Resolution Day Opportunities



Download the Conflict Resolution Day Poster