Students help to resolve conflicts

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 27, 2002

Let's be honest … a wedgie is humiliating.

Whitewashing worse yet.

And, nobody likes to give up their space in line at lunchtime, especially if it's Friday and pizza is being served.

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It gets worse. Much worse.

There's teasing, name-calling, property disputes, fighting, rumors, intimidation, arguments, friendship disputes, put downs, shoving and pushing, excluding, threats and harassment.

And it hurts. A little or a lot. Sometimes on the inside, where nobody else can see and sometimes on the outside where the whole world can see.

When it happens this school year at Banfield Elementary School in Austin, boys and girls will have an option. There will be an opportunity for a peaceful solution and moving onward in life.

Peer mediation is back at Banfield.

John Wagner and Angela Schuster spent Monday teaching 10 fifth graders about the peer mediation process for students in grades kindergarten through the fifth grade.

Emily Majerus, Zach Rausch, Nicholas Finke, Malachi Oman, Katelyn Tollefson, Timothy Erickson, Kaitlyn Danielson, Miriam Medina, Mayra Medina and Jacob Brehmer will undertake the responsibility of helping their fellow Banfield students mediate differences.

Dale Erickson, new principal at Banfield school, is a believer in peer mediation. "I think it gives the students a good opportunity at resolving issues or conflict by themselves," Erickson said.

The process is thorough. When a student seeks mediation, it must be requested. Mediators are assigned and a session scheduled. Confidentiality is exercised throughout the process.

When the combatants -- or more politically correctly called "disputants" -- meet the mediators, they must admit they want to solve the problem.