I was recently at a Mediation Conference where I was particularly impressed by two of the young speakers talking about the mediation services that they and other students provide for their peers at the college they attend. The students are trained and supported by a local mediation provider and the service sits under their umbrella.
The young mediators give presentations to new students at their college who are encouraged to contact the service as a way of resolving difficulties with their peers. The service is very well used and the young mediators are mediating most days.
This got me thinking about when I was at school. If only there had been such a service then. Issues at that time included boys swearing and scaring girls on the bus, girls bullying each other (in some cases meaning they had to change classes), girls borrowing things from others and not giving them back, the list is endless. I can only begin to ponder on what a difference such a service could have made to my schooldays. Life seemed more challenging for young people then with less support. Yet, I’m sure students these days have their own challenges; the misuse of social media for example can lead to all issues, and even bullying.
It is to be applauded that young people are learning to be mediators and using these skills with their peers in colleges where it is needed. This surely bodes very well for the future. If young people are learning and thinking about resolving conflict in a positive way then we have to be moving closer to resolving issues more productively rather than giving in to our human default ‘fight or flight’ reaction. The positive direction that these representatives of the next generation are taking in delivering mediation in their own college directly with their peers, is something to be supported and encouraged.