Peer mediation is a form of conflict resolution in which trained student leaders help their peers work together to resolve everyday disputes. Participation in peer mediation is voluntary, and with the exception of information that is illegal or life-threatening, all matters discussed in mediation sessions remain confidential.
It involves two trained mediators helping their peers deal with conflict through a series of mediation steps. It can be used for children and young people of all ages. The conflicts can include fights in the playground, rumour-spreading, or different types of bullying behaviour. During peer mediation disagreements are faced and brought out into the open with the help of the peer mediators. Importantly, shared understanding and agreements are worked toward through careful exploration of the conflict.
Peer mediation is usually seen as part of a restorative justice approach in schools.
Student mediators do not make judgments or offer advice, and they have no power to force decisions upon their peers. Because mediation is sensitive to the underlying causes of conflict, the vast majority of peer mediation sessions result in lasting resolutions.
A peer mediator is someone who can see both sides of an argument and help others to come to a solution themselves. Children think they can perhaps understand children’s problems better than adults. Mediators can have a marked impact on the life of their school, helping their peers to deal with conflict.
Reviews of Peer Mediation
“All pupils value the role of peer mediators in resolving disputes and are sure they always have someone to talk to if they are in difficulty. As a result, pupils say they feel safe in school and their parents and carers agree.”
“I believe in peer mediation because I see the difference it makes for pupils every day, and I believe it’s a really important thing for our school to take forward”
– Jill Honeyman, Head of Guidance, Baldragon Academy, Runner-Up for LEAP Confronting Conflict Award 2015
“Peer mediation has had a huge impact on the school, not just in the development of skills the children have in being able to deal with conflict but also in building their confidence and capacity to take those skills and use them throughout life”
– Jill Linsday, Depute Head Teacher, Auchinraith Primary
PeaceMakers (based in Birmingham) offer peer mediation training.
Quick Guide to Implementing a Peer Mediation Program (PDF download)
by Richard Cohen, founding director of School Mediation Associates based in USA.