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Cultivating Youth Mediators and Peacemakers in Middle School

Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative (WPDI) is pleased to announce the launch of a peer mediation program at Carnegie Middle School in collaboration with partner California State University, Dominguez Hills.  The peer mediation program is part of WPDI’s Domestic Harmonizer Program, a three-year pilot launched at the Carson, California-based school last year.  Designed to provide intensive training to a core group of 30 student leaders at Carnegie, the program focuses on peer-to-peer confliction resolution.  The methodology is proving to be far more empowering and impactful in addressing conflicts long term, and preserving relationships at school, over disciplinary measures or adult intervention.  Central in the strategy is the training of students in the 7th and 8th grades in the peer mediation process serving as impartial mediators.  The students participate in 12 hours of training in November and December in peer mediation in preparation to take cases suitable for peer mediation starting in January 2018.  Overseeing the program are the school’s three counselors as well as peer-mediation experts from WPDI and CSUDH.

“I am very excited to implement the peer mediation program here at Carnegie,” said Cheryl Nakata, principal of Carnegie, an early and strong advocate of the program.  “I believe that this program will ensure that peace building and resolution to conflict are achievable through the skills that our young people will learn.  I also believe that through mediation by their peers, our students will begin to comprehend the power of understanding, communication and awareness.  I have confidence that our students will be shining examples of how peace is possible, and that our future is in good hands.”

Building on the Domestic Harmonizer Programs curriculum, the program advances an existing effort taught across campus at Carnegie.  All 7th grade students are currently instructed in peer mediation through this curriculum.  However, the official peer-mediation program enables a formal mechanism to be established within the school’s core group of trained mediators, guiding disputants in the mediation process and aiding in solutions to their own conflicts.  Empowering youth to assist in the resolution of conflicts on campus is beneficial in areas of empathy and understanding, often demonstrated as more effective than adult intervention, creating channels to preserve friendships and relationships at school. 

The program’s goal is to reduce the incidents of complaints and issues in a peaceful and holistic manner, simultaneously assisting counselors in addressing youth problems on campus.

“The sooner we learn that the goal of resolving conflict is to understand each other and letting go of our need to be right, the easier our lives will be,” said Carolina Dousdebes, counselor at Carnegie.