Based on the belief that positive conflict resolution should become a life-long competence, and research showing that schools that incorporated this approach became safer environments with improved achievement, CRCMC developed several programs for youth. The programs seek to address a continuum of intensity, from arguments to damaging conflicts. In the past, we worked with schools on peer mediation programs. Presently we are focusing on community conferencing and dialogue circles.
Community Conferencing is a program of restorative justice for youth. Referrals come from the Department of Juvenile Services (DJS), police, and schools. CRCMC facilitates this process which invites participation by all the people affected by a conflict, including those who caused the harm, those directly affected by the harm, and others in the community affected by the conflict, such as parents, teachers, school staff members, or neighbors. All participants get a chance to speak. The goal is for all participants to understand what happened and why, to learn how everyone has been affected, and, when possible, to create an agreement that will repair the damage and prevent future harm. This process fosters understanding and respect between all participants.
Dialogue circles are open discussions where groups of 8 to 10 at risk students are encouraged by the CRCMC facilitator (called a “Keeper”) to discuss topics that allow the students to explore various conflict resolution strategies in a safe space. This unique opportunity to practice listening skills and respectful dialogue can address conflict before it rises to a level resulting in punitive measures; promote relationships among students and between students and their school; help the students recognize their own role in conflicts; and empower and inspire them to improve their conflict resolution skills. CRCMC also provides training and support to teachers who want to lead dialogue circles.
The In-School Mediation Program serves schools with students from low-income families and high-need students. CRCMC staff and volunteers are at the schools several days a week to provide on-site mediation and alternative dispute resolution services as conflicts arise. This allows students and school staff to address conflicts before they escalate and before students get expelled.
Requests are confidential and your participation is voluntary at every step of the process.