by Jennifer Torres
Living in Southern Los Angeles violence was prevalent throughout my community, as I saw gang violence emerge from every corner at night. Late at night I would wake up to the noise of helicopters flying right above my neighborhood due to gang violence. I grew up in a violent community and I would see how violence would mold youth to become a part of the never ending cycle of violence. There was something that needed to be done in order to end this cycle and to make my community less violent and more accepting for future generations.
In 2011 I decided to become a Peer Mediator for King Drew Magnet High School of Medicine and Science. I became a Peer Mediator because I wanted to be a part of the solution and end violence. Many of my peers come from similar communities that I come from and violence has also been prevalent in their lives. Many of peers would resolve their problems with violence and as a consequence they would get suspended or expelled. I was sick and tired of seeing my peers fight over misunderstandings that could have been handled differently instead of resulting to fighting which lead them to expulsion. As a high school student, being in a hostile violent environment was something that I did not want to experience and through Peer Mediation I made sure that students would never experience that type of environment. I wanted my fellow peers to experience an accepting and friendly environment in order for them to grow and prosper.
Peer Mediation gives an alternative way of solving problems in order to avoid violence and has taught me how to handle disagreements and problems. Through mediating cases I noticed that there are different sides to a story as well as different ways of solving a situation that does not lead to physical harm. The reason why physical violence happens is because no one wants to discuss their problem so they act on their emotions instead of facing their problem. The reason why many problems occur is because of misleading information that has been accumulated through gossip. This gossip can be toxic and very hurtful to someone which can lead to violence. Talking about a problem can diminish misleading information and clear up anything that needs to say between the disputants.
I’ve learned that being prideful isn’t going to take me far, sometimes you have to swallow your pride in order to get over the problem and get to the solution. I’ve used skills that Peer Mediation has taught me in my school and social life. I’ve noticed that I have less problems and less altercation with my peers because I know how to handle a situation and how to approach the problem in a nonviolent manner. Peer Mediation breaks the cycle of violence as it educates its mediators as well as the student getting mediated on ways on how to solve a problem in a nonviolent way. These valuable new skill are hopefully are applied to their everyday life, so that they can practice in their community. These skills can be spread throughout communities so that others can adopt them and diminish the violence cycle.