Conflict Resolution / Alternative to Suspension

CONFLICT RESOLUTION/ALTERNATIVES TO SUSPENSION

PEER MEDIATION

Middle school students at a charter school in Brooklyn, concerned about physical conflict among kids and teens in their community, successfully advocated for a peer mediation program at their school. Through their research, they discovered that students who were inclined to resolve conflict through fighting did so either because of external pressure from peers or family members, or because they could not calm themselves down when provoked. They felt strongly that the positive potential of peer pressure, through a school-approved mediation program, would provide young people in their community with the tools they need to resolve conflict peacefully, as well as the motivation to consider non-physical options.

YOUTH COURT

High school students, concerned about disruptive student behavior as well as what they considered an overly punitive school disciplinary system, created a school-based Youth Court to improve the school climate.

Through Youth Court, students are trained to serve as jurors, judges and attorneys, handling real-life cases involving their peers. The goal is to use positive peer pressure to ensure that young people who have committed minor offenses both pay back the community and receive the help they need to stay out of trouble and succeed in school. A Youth Court does not decide guilt or innocence; to participate a student must admit violating school rules. The Youth Court jury focuses on determining the appropriate rehabilitative sanctions which can include community service, reflective essays and letters of apology.

The school principal agreed to allow the Youth Court to hear cases involving students who were eligible for suspension after violating multiple minor school rules. Youth Court Respondents who completed their sanctions also were invited to become members of Youth Court.