The Asian Pacific American Dispute Resolution Center (APADRC) brings violence prevention and education to several schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District through our youth program titled Peace Makers and Mediators (PM²).
We provide both direct mediation services and conflict resolution training to students, teachers, and administrators. Conflict is a regular and inevitable aspect of life. Schools are increasingly recognizing the importance of training staff, teachers, and students the skills necessary for managing conflict in a productive and nonviolent manner.
This program provides students with a sense of responsibility, ownership, and the ability to both lead and work collaboratively with others. PM² has provided training and technical assistance to many schools in the greater Los Angeles area.
Our diverse staff that reaches out to all communities, as the demographics of our diverse schools demonstrate. 61% of students that we work with are Hispanic, 23% are African American, 10% are Asian Pacific Islander and 6% are white Caucasian.
- What is Peace Makers and Mediators?
- Peace Makers and Mediators Club
- How Peer Mediation Works
- Our Peer Mediation Training
- Creating a Culture of Peace
Peacemakers and Mediators is APADRC’s youth program, providing Peer Mediation and Conflict Resolution programs to schools in Los Angeles County. The program includes peer mediation training, ongoing leadership building activities, school-wide events, and the opportunity to attend the Peer Mediation Invitational hosted by Western Justice Center (WJC) and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The Invitational is designed for peer mediators throughout Los Angeles County in elementary, middle and high schools. Our goal is to be proactive in diffusing school-based fights and misunderstandings between students, teachers, administrators and parents.
Our program strives to help students resolve common problems that permeate school campuses such as
- Dirty looks
- Relationship problems
The Peacemakers and Peer Mediators club consist of our peer mediators and other students interested in building peace on their campuses and in their communities. The club is led by officers who are elected by the peers, who create a vision for the club through a leadership retreat at the beginning if the year.
Our clubs organize many school-wide activities and events, including
- New student orientation and peer support
- Assemblies and dances promoting peace
- Healthy relationships / Teen dating violence prevention
- Anti-Bullying poster contests
- Annual toy drive
- Peer Mediation Invitational (PMI)
- No Name-Calling Week
- Youth Talk – each Friday, students engage in facilitated discussions that address current, important issues
Each year, peer mediators that are graduating seniors are eligible for the APADRC’s Conversity Youth Scholarship, which awards $500 towards their college education. Additionally, the APADRC encourages peer mediators who are interested in pursuing careers in mediation or conflict resolution by offering our 40-hour Basic Mediation and Conflict Resolution training for free to one student from each high school. With the 40-hour certificate, students may begin mediating community conflicts with the APADRC and other community mediation centers.
Students mediate under the supervision and coaching of our sponsoring teacher and the APADRC’s Youth Program Coordinator. During mediation, peer mediators listen to all sides of the conflict, facilitate dialogue, use active listening skills, and help students reach agreements that are mutually fair and agreeable. Peer mediation is individualized and empowering, teaching students communication skills that help them resolve their conflicts independently and responsibly without adult intervention.
Anyone may bring a case to peer mediation. Many students self-refer, and teachers, counselors and administrators also refer cases. The Dean’s Office may choose to refer cases to mediation as an alternative to marks on a student’s record.
These are the steps that our peer mediators use:
- Setting the Stage – Peer mediators introduce themselves, explain the process, and get agreement on the ground rules.
- Hearing the Stories – Peer mediators actively listen to each student share their perspective, summarize and ask questions.
- Identifying the Issues – Peer mediators identify the main issues and areas of misunderstanding for the students.
- Finding Solutions – Addressing those issues, peer mediators brainstorm realistic, fair solutions with the students.
- Closing – The solutions are written down and the students sign. Peer mediators thank both of the students for participating and close the mediation.
Students go through a highly interactive, 2-day intensive training to become peer mediators. Our activities include improv exercises, partner sharing, small and large group activities, writing exercises, and mediation roleplays. The training is comprehensive, covering peace and conflict theory, conflict management styles, the steps of mediation, effective communication skills, mediation techniques, and collaborative decision making.
Here are what some of our students have to say about our trainings:
- My favorite parts were the active activities. Especially the mock mediations because it really gave us an idea of what to expect.
- The only comment I have is to continue what you are doing and THANK YOU SO MUCH!!
- The improvs were very good and funny and instructive.
- My favorite parts of training was getting to know everyone. I enjoyed everything/everyone.
- It was one of the best things I’ve ever been to.
- I like the role playing & the part where we are doing training to prepare us for a real mediation section. I liked every part of the class.
- Even though I’ve only known these people for a short period of time, it was a great bonding experience and this is a great group.
- I love how outgoing you guys were, not judgemental [sic] at all, it made everyone want to participate.
In their own words, these are some of the most important lessons that our students take away from our training:
- I learned to let the people in conflict to sort out their own problems and you are supposed to lead them to the solution without giving advice.
- People from opposite ends of the spectrum can balance and compliment each other.
- I learned how sometimes its good to just listen to someone speak & not talk.
- I learned that working with different ethnicities is not the easiest thing to do.
- I learned that not every conflict is going to be solved, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing.
Our program contributed to a 25% decrease in school suspensions. We have a resolution rate of 97%. Students who participate in Peace Makers and Mediators show high levels of leadership and empowerment in resolving conflict at their schools and in their communities.
Peace Makers and Mediators, the youth-based peer mediation/conflict resolution program of the APADRC, began at Foshay Learning Center in 1997 and has expanded to other local middle and high schools in Los Angeles County.