Last year in Independence, Missouri, the Community Mediation Center (CMC) was called upon to mediate, facilitate or train 123 people in 54 cases. 42 of the cases were referred from schools involving 95 people. Mill Creek, Truman, Nowlin, Van Horn, Fort Osage, Blackburn, Pioneer Ridge, Bridger, and Fairmount requested conflict resolution training, family facilitations or student to student or student to teacher mediations. All but one resulted in positive change in the behavior of the participants and a plan, co-created by parties, to move forward in peaceful ways.
Staff at Van Horn High School heard of a situation where two girls were threatening to fight and called CMC to request mediation. Judy Heath and Lise Copeland, CMC School Specialists, went to the school the next morning. Following the mediation, Judy told this story. “ Both of the girls were visibly angry, their body language seemed to say “I want nothing to do with any of this”. After the set-up, explaining the process and setting guidelines, both girls started talking at once, arguing the facts. Lise reminded them that they had agreed to take turns. A few minutes in to the time, it was clear that we were headed into a deep pit of convoluted remembering. Lise turned on the headlamp and forged ahead, detailing timelines, status’ with ex-boyfriends, mutual best friends, mothers’ unhelpful input, Facebook entries, rumors and the significance of the dome light in the car when they drove up the driveway at 1 a.m.
This went on for about an hour, but proved to be a necessary step in the reconciliation process. When they finally ran out of story, they were able to calmly reach an agreement about how to handle their relationship in the future. The young lady who came in the room the most upset, reached over and wiped a tear off the other girl’s face with sisterly care.”
These are the moments of transformation that mediators live for!
Van Horn High School has decreased ‘out of school’ suspensions by 90% from just two years ago; keeping more kids in school where they have a chance to learn what they need to learn, keeping kids included in their community instead of separating them from it in a punitive way, and engaging kids in opportunities for respectful and creative problem solving. Welcome to the Peace Party!
You are invited to join! CMC is offering ‘Interpersonal Conflict Resolution’ and ‘Mediation’ Training in March. Call the office 816-461-8255 or visit the website www.communitymediationkc.org for more information.