Peer Mediation facilitates change by providing a school environment that is positive, caring, safe and friendly. Mediation workshops teach all students to resolve low-level conflicts using their peers as mediators. Mediation opens up communication channels and allows the disagreeing students to discuss their problems with the guidance of mediators and come to a resolution that suits both parties.
Peer mediation is based on the assumption that conflicts are mutual problems that can be resolved in ways that benefit all parties. In secondary/high schools, peer mediation is used to help two or more students resolve serious conflicts they cannot handle independently. Peer meditation relies on an impartial third party, the peer mediator, to facilitate the problem-solving process and help students use advanced communication, negotiation, and problem-solving skills to reach a mutually beneficial resolution.
Peer mediation has been found to be particularly effective in primary/elementary schools, where the disputes are often about relationships, playing together, working together and understanding human differences. Peer mediation is very powerful as children begin to articulate their feelings and create a more profound understanding of each other and how to use dialogue to resolve their disputes.
Some programs use teams of peer mediators who collaborate to facilitate the negotiation process. Disputes about such issues as jealousy, the use of personal property, bullying, rumors, fights, and misunderstandings among students lend themselves to peer mediation. Peer mediation may not, however, be appropriate in situations where the students have severe emotional problems, have already engaged in violent acts, or have had unsuccessful experiences with mediation.
Peer mediation is also particularly appropriate for secondary school because at this stage in their developmental process, students typically rely on their peers for social and emotional support and welcome opportunities to function independently of their parents and teachers. In addition, secondary school students are better able to view problems from the perspective of their peers and can frame issues in language that is understood by their classmates.