Conflict Resolution is a formal name for settling problems in a way that lets you and others retain your dignity. Even when conflict resolution techniques don’t yield the ideal outcomes, they tend to improve the situation; at the very least, they help us keep from making a bad situation worse.
A conflict resolution program teaches people basic techniques for cooling off a situation and coming to an agreement acceptable to everyone. You might undertake a basic poster campaign, add handouts, and invite local experts to give workshops or guest talks in class. Model the program to fit your school or community center.
As typically practiced in schools, Peer Mediation is a process by which a one or more trained student mediators listen to other students (whom we’ll call “disputants”) who would otherwise have received a disciplinary/punitive referral and help the disputants create their own solutions to their conflict.
Mediators don’t provide the disputants with answers. They don’t tell anyone what to do, or force anyone to apologize. They certainly don’t punish. They don’t report back to the teacher or the principal. They just carry out the process and complete some simple, confidential report forms for the mediation coordinator.
Mediation is a voluntary alternative to traditionally punitive consequences. The intent of mediation rather than punishment is that disputants not only lose less class time, but also learn that they can handle most of the typical interpersonal problems on their own — without having to involve adults, and without getting themselves in bigger trouble. Most disputants will come up with workable settlements. That doesn’t mean perfect: It means that the disputants felt that the process was fair and reasonable, and that the solutions work for them.