What is Peer Mediation?
It is a process whereby students act as a neutral, third-party to help their peers resolve disputes and conflicts in a confidential, non-judgmental, and constructive manner.
It is a way to attack the problem and not the person!
What do mediators do?
They help children work out their problems. They do not judge kids or tell kids what to do. They simply help children to each share their side of the story and come up with ideas that will help them to solve their problem.
Who is involved?
Mediators and disputants and an adult advisor.
Who can be referred, who can refer students to the program, and how do you refer?
Any students who are having a conflict can be referred as long as the conflict does not involve violence, abuse (physical & sexual) and drugs…those problems need to be handled by the principal. Students, teachers, teacher’s aides, counselors, psychologists, and principals can all refer a student to peer mediation. Referrals are easy to do. In the elementary office, there is an envelope labeled, Peer Mediation, hanging up on the cabinets near the teacher’s mailboxes. Inside that envelope are referral forms. You need to take one and fill it out, and then place it in the peer mediation box in the counseling center.
The form asks you to write the date, write the student’s names, grades, & teacher’s names, write who is requesting the mediation
How soon will a mediation take place after a referral has been made?
Mediations are planned for the day after the referral was received. If our advisor’s schedules are too busy, we may have to postpone the mediation a day or two.
How are students selected?
Students will be selected based on the following criteria: people skills, leadership potential, conduct in school, respect of peers or ability to gain respect, good verbal and listening skills, willingness to commit to the program for at least this year, and their ability to honor confidentiality.
What does the peer mediation process look like?

The peer mediation process is voluntary, confidential, informal, respectful and impartial. Most importantly, peer mediation puts conflict back into the hands of the students, giving them a sense of ownership of their problems, and creating within them an investment in collaborative resolution processes.

When a case is referred to peer mediation, the case will generally go through a basic intake/development process to determine if the conflict is appropriate for mediation and if the students referred are willing to participate in a peer mediation session. If the students agree to the participate, a session is scheduled that consists of the following steps:

1. An agreement to mediate and a foundation of ground rules,

2. The sharing of perspectives,

3. Defining the problem,

4. Generating and evaluating potential solutions, focusing on interests, rather than positions, and

5. Composing and signing a written agreement.

Each participant will evaluate the peer mediation process at the conclusion of the session, and peer mediation program staff or coordinators will use these evaluations to follow up with students to address any questions/concerns and to, after a week or two, inquire into the durability of and satisfaction with the mediation agreement.

What kind of disputes can be resolved through peer mediation?

School-based peer mediation is most commonly used to help resolve issues that directly affect student relationships, such as:

  • School rumors/ gossip
  • Social networking and other Internet-based provocations
  • Dissolution of friendships or romantic relationships
  • Minor bullying/harassment
  • Cheating on schoolwork
  • Property theft
  • Vandalism
  • Confrontations that result from differences in race, culture, sexuality, religion, status, etc.

Not all conflict cases are appropriate for peer mediation. Case types that should be immediately referred to school counselors, administration and/or outside authorities, as each individual school’s policies dictate, include:

  • Drug abuse/possession
  • Weapon use/possession
  • Sexual, physical or emotional abuse/assault
  • Suicide threats or attempts
  • Any issue that might interfere with current or pending legal action or judicial rulings (such as restraining orders, etc.)

Additionally, if evidence or threats of abuse or any other indication of eminent danger to the safety of either participants or peer mediators emerges during the mediation session, students must be trained to immediately report such threats to the Program Coordinator or other designated school representative for proper handling. This important aspect of student safety is covered more in-depth in the Peer Mediators training curriculum.

How do students become peer mediators?

A vast majority of successful peer mediation programs make a conscious effort to train a balanced, diverse group of peer mediators. Peer mediators should ideally represent the student body in terms of gender, race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, academic standing and ability levels, so that all students feel comfortable, accepted and safe using the program.

There are a variety of ways in which peer mediators can be chosen: a) the student body nominates their peers, b) the faculty and staff nominate students, c) student volunteers are solicited/self-nominate, or d) some combination of the first three approaches. We recommend that a selection committee be used to handle recruitment and nominations of peer mediators. This selection committee might consist of current peer mediators or student leaders, teachers/faculty, administration, parents, and/or the program coordinator.

Once selected, peer mediators are trained in a core set of conflict resolution skills, such as active listening, neutrality and brainstorming, and given lots of interactive practice in the mediation process itself via conflict resolution role plays. It is suggested that a Junior High/Middle School Peer Mediation Program training should consist of 12-20 initial training hours at the beginning of the school year, and 12 or more continuing education hours throughout each academic year. After satisfactorily demonstrating competence in peer mediation skills and practices, students are then able to begin offering the services to the student body.

What are the benefits of having a peer mediation program in your school?

Programs such as peer mediation can provide students with opportunities to test the consequences of their own decisions as implemented in their school community. Some of the most commonly identified benefits of peer mediation at the school level are:

  • The resolution of minor disputes that interfere with the education process.
  • Peer mediators and students who participate in peer mediation programming have been shown to demonstrate improved self-esteem and improved positive status amongst their peer group, as well as improved academic confidence.
  • Peer mediators develop communication and leadership skills, as well as practical life skills. They often carry these skill sets beyond the school doors and into their families and communities, as well, helping to resolve problems more effectively than before.

Perhaps the most beneficial aspect of Peer Mediation programming, however, is the individualized, empowering experience that it offers to each student who utilizes it to resolve a conflict. Students are empowered to resolve their conflicts independently and responsibly, without adult intervention, which is a significant milestone for youth development.

How do students participate in the online activities?
OPMP utilizes ZOOM, an online video conferencing software. The school based Peer Mediation Coordinator/Trainer creates an account for the school and manages all aspects. Students do not need to create an account or password to access ZOOM.

The PM Coordinator/Trainer sends a secure weblink invitation to the meeting. Students click on the link and enter a meeting ID number.

Students can participate in online activities (with their PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android tablet or smartphone), (1) in order to practice their peer mediation skills or deliver online peer mediation services; and (2) under the direct supervision of their school’s peer mediation trainer.
Is it secure?
The Zoom meetings can be ‘locked’ by the PM Coordinator/Trainer once the session begins, restricting access and guaranteeing safety. The video conferencing software used for the students’ online activities is very secure.

There is no direct contact between OPMP team members and students. All students’ online activities are coordinated between OPMP and their school’s PM trainer/coordinator.

Any video produced during online activities with students for training purposes is under the direct supervision and control of their PM trainer.