Youth Violence Interventions
Peer mediation is
another popular but unproven approach. These programs are usually
implemented in elementary or secondary schools, and are often
offered in conjunction with conflict resolution curricula.
Students involved in peer mediation programs agree to have
disputes mediated by a peer who has been trained to help both
parties analyze the problem and come to a nonviolent resolution.
The process is designed to reach consensus, maintain
confidentiality, and avoid blame.
Many of these programs
have been rated favorably by participants, school officials, and
disputants. Although they are popular, there is little evidence
that they work. A 1989 review of 14 evaluations found that none
had used a randomized design, and many lacked a control group (Lamm 1989). One of the few controlled
studies that has been conducted to date found no effects on
school climate, rates of student retention, suspension, dismissal
or attendance (Araki 1989).
evaluations suggest that peer-mediation may have a positive
impact on student knowledge and attitudes (Howell
and Bilchik, 1995). Only one has demonstrated a positive
impact on behavior. In 1992, Tolson,
McDonald and Moriarty published the results of an evaluation of
a peer mediation program in a predominantly middle-class suburban
high school with a diverse student body. They found that students
who were randomly assigned to peer mediation were less likely to
be referred back to the assistant dean within two and a half
months of the original incident than students referred for
traditional discipline (warnings, demerits, or suspensions).
Long-term follow up was not reported.