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learn / 2015

The Peer Mediation Network

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by The Institute for Nonviolence in Los Angeles

Students will lead the conflict resolution revolution and be agents of peaceful change in LA and via the internet. Young people who have received Peer Mediation Training will produce and ‘star in’ video podcasts, YouTube videos and interactive programs. They will share the basic tenets of alternatives to violence and social emotional learning using technology that is fast becoming a universal language and whose integration into all facets of communication will be de rigueur for citizens of 2050.

In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • City of Los Angeles

How do you plan to use these resources to make change?

  • Conduct research
  • Engage residents and stakeholders
  • Expand a pilot or a program
  • Mobilize for systems change

How will your proposal improve the following “Learn” metrics?

  • District-wide graduation rates
  • Academic Performance Index* scores
  • Suspension and expulsion rates (Dream Metric)
  • Truancy rates in elementary and middle schools (Dream Metric)
  • Students perceived sense of safety at and on the way to school (Dream Metric)

Describe in greater detail how you will make LA the best place to learn.

INVLA is in its 4th year training students in South LA to be Peer Mediators. (See attached video). Via the Peer Mediation Network, youth (ages 8 – 18) will take their work to the next level and be agents of peaceful change in their schools and communities. They will collaborate to create regular Vodcasts on the, interviewing other peer mediators, school personnel, families, and potentially reenacting real ‘cases.’ While mastering communication and listening skills, these young people will model alternatives to violence at school and in communities and integrate technology to expand the reach of the program. Combining mediation and social emotional learning with the focused use of technology will provide an invaluable formula for personal and professional life-long success, utilizable in many contexts.

Peer mediation is a restorative practice in which trained students help their peers resolve conflicts. Based on restorative principles, it promotes interpersonal connection, builds a sense of community and integrates the voices of participants. Training teaches students social emotional learning and conflict resolution skills that allow them to manage their feelings and behaviors and co-exist more peacefully. Disputes that would otherwise escalate to violence, get diffused and agreements reached generally ‘stick’. A single suspension increases the chances of low achievement, dropping out of school and being pushed into the criminal justice system. Evidence shows that peer mediation programs (1) reduce violent conflict and generally decrease the number of office referrals and school suspensions by 45% and (2) trained peer mediators have higher academic achievement, increased self-esteem and better communication.

This project will enable INVLA to augment its Peer Mediation Training Program by providing funds for full implementation support at the schools. Creating a safe, stable learning environment, Peer Mediation- especially when offered as a regularly scheduled elective- improves school climates and builds greater student connectedness.

Project Goals: (1) Model the mastery of the Vodcast, social media, and other technologies as integrated and purposeful tools, in order to mainstream the concept that there are alternatives to violence in society. (2) Reduce the rates of suspension and expulsion at each school (3) Improve school climates and increase students’ perceived sense of safety at school

Please explain how you will evaluate your work.

Prior to and after providing peer mediation training, the project will analyze school discipline data and administer online and paper surveys to students to assess their knowledge of conflict resolution principles as well as their perception of the school climate and level of safety at school. Parents will also complete surveys to assess their knowledge of conflict resolution initiatives. Project trainers will evaluate real time peer mediations and provide feedback and support and mediation participants will complete surveys following each mediation. Surveys will measure outcomes, including:

  • The number of cases mediated and agreements reached
  • Whether students knew about mediation before the mediation and how they found out
  • Satisfaction levels with the mediation
  • Ability of each party to communicate feelings and understand the other person’s point of view
  • Whether program participation has an impact on how parties manage disputes outside the classroom

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?

  • Money (financial capital)
  • Volunteers/staff (human capital)
  • Publicity/awareness (social capital)
  • Community outreach