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Conflict Resolution in High School

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Conflict Resolution in High School
Youth conflict resolution has been around for a while and has been very successful in some schools. The biggest problem has been keeping a program going. Training, funding, and finding time to keep it a part of a school are difficult challenges. Conflict resolution means teaching young people new and different ways to resolve disputes without resorting to verbal or physical violence. Many adolescents today are caught up in situations of teen conflict that they cannot manage – jealousy, name calling, teasing, gossip, stealing another’s property, dating and friendship issues, and bullying and outright aggression. Schools are frequently the center of many of these tensions. Conflict can also branch out from the school and lead to problems in the community. Conflict resolution education is an important component in violence prevention and intervention program in schools and youth communities. It is used in approximately 15% of schools in the United States. The most successful programs seem to be those that offer a comprehensive approach to problem-solving, teaching effective listening and communication skills, and critical and creative thinking with an emphasis on personal responsibility and self discipline. Sweeney and Caruthers (1996) define conflict resolution in a concise way, “the process used by both parties in conflict to reach a settlement.”
Conflict is basically the result of two or more people possessing differing opinions, beliefs, needs, or goals than another person and something has to take place with at least one person in order for the two of them to continue any type of relationship. Conflict in schools comes in many different forms. Teachers sometimes do not want to obey principals. Students do not want to obey teachers and sometimes students just cannot agree on something between each other. A large amount of interaction between people takes place in schools, so conflict is evitable.
Conflict is not a bad thing. It can be good. Conflict helps raise and address problems. It energizes work to be done on important issues. It helps people “be real”. It motivates them to participate. Most of all, it can help people to recognize and benefit from their differences. The positives many times aren’t realized because young people aren’t equipped with conflict management skills and often lash out in destructive ways instead. This can lead to poor productivity in class, low morale, continued conflicts, and inappropriate behaviors. It is the main cause of crisis in our schools today. Conflict resolution is designed to equip students with the skills they need to deal with conflict in their lives.
Metal detectors and security can only go so far in preventing problems in schools. Schools must get to the roots of problems and educate our students on how to do that. It is important that educators and students understand the nature of conflict. The better educators and students understand the nature of conflict, the better able they are to manage conflicts constructively (Kinard, 1988). Moran (2001), says, “Conflict management is a philosophy and set of skills that assist individuals and groups in better understanding and dealing with conflict as it arises in their lives.” There are not many studies out there showing the effects of teaching conflict resolution in high schools but the few that are show that when students and teachers are trained, there are fewer serious problems in those schools. Evidence shows that shows teaching conflict management skills not only helps students get along with one another, it also can improve their comprehension in core curriculum subjects. In one school, it was shown, that students who received conflict training with the study of a novel over a two-week period, scored much better on an examination than students who did not receive the conflict training and only studied the novel.
Importance of Working Together
Since conflict is basically unavoidable in a setting such as a school, it is necessary that all parties be able to recognize conflict, to see it’s constructive as well as destructive potential, and to learn how to manage it and apply conflict management strategies in a practical way (Ghaffar, 2009). Parents and teachers need to work together to mutually reinforce the programs put in place to empower young people with the skills and processes of conflict resolution where teen conflict exists. Adults still have the final say in conflict resolution and that needs to be clear to students. This is especially true when police are involved. Adults need to be the role models for conflict resolution and model how peaceful resolution is used in their lives. In inner city schools where drug use and delinquency is a problem, conflict resolution programs have been successful when they are a part of the school’s curriculum.
Basic Steps to Resolve Conflict
Most programs follow a series of steps that include setting ground rules and agreeing to work together with no name-calling, blaming, yelling or interrupting (Ghaffar, 2009). A student or teacher must listen closely to what the other person has to say. This allows them to better understand the other person—their needs and their point of view. The parties should try to find common interests and come up with solutions that allow everyone to gain something if it is possible. Negotiation will be necessary with the goal being to reach a mutual compromise. This should lead to an agreement that needs to be written down and followed up on. Parents can teach these same basic skills at home so they reinforce what the school is teaching. If parents, schools and communities work together to equip students with conflict resolution training, the entire community will benefit with less serious problems at school and less violence and problems in the community. Teaching teens the skills necessary to solve and handle conflict in their own lives and teaching them to be mediators to solve and handle conflict in their peers lives can only result in positives for everyone in both the school and community. So how do we know if a conflict has been resolved constructively? Johnson and Johnson (1976) state that conflicts are resolved constructively when they (a) result in an outcome that all disputants are satisfied with, (b) improve the relationship between disputants, and (c) improve the ability of disputants to resolve future conflicts in a constructive manner. There are three basic ways conflict management is being taught or used in schools today. The first is through curriculum infusion. In all classes, teachers find ways to introduce students to conflict and choices to negotiate and resolve them. Teachers use conflict resolution skills to discipline students and to teach them to discipline themselves. For this to be effective, teachers had to be trained and all had to buy into the idea. This allowed conflict resolution to be consistent throughout the entire school. Teachers used “teachable moments” to present conflict management skills in their classes (Ghaffar, 2009). These schools also used posters, assemblies, school-wide week long themes, and announcements to promote conflict management. Teachers can infuse conflict resolution into their curricula in different ways. An English teacher could infuse it in literature and writing. Physical education, math, and science teachers can infuse it because their students already work together on or in teams competitively often challenging one another’s conceptions in order to provide growth. Business, vocational, and career teachers can teach conflict management when discussing issues that come up in the workplace. In addition, supervisors at detention and Saturday school can use conflict management lessons as part of their programs. Students in these schools where conflict management is introduced across the curriculum begin to develop skills that allow them to come up with constructive means of responding to conflict when it happens.
Mediation is a second and very common use of using conflict management to prevent violence in schools. Here a third party is used to help those in conflict come to a reasonable solution or acceptable agreement. Usually a school will train a small group of students who will then be used to mediate conflicts among their peers. Schools who used this reported many incidents were resolved using student mediators and the conflict never had to be dealt with further. Fighting and violence also decreased in these schools. Thus mediation is good because it allows students to solve their own problem with the assistance of a trained peer. The student mediators accomplish satisfactory resolve to issues by establishing a good working alliance with the parties, improving climate between the parties, addressing the issues, and applying pressure for settlement (Ghaffar, 2009). To do this mediators have to establish a working relation with each of the parties. They have to develop a problem-solving attitude among the parties. They need to develop a creative group process and decision making process with the parties and finally, they must gather considerable knowledge about the problem around which the conflict centers. Mediation is very educational for the mediators. They not only learn from the training but they learn even more by actually doing the mediating. It makes them much better at handling conflict themselves and often results in them becoming a better person.
Peer mediation has proven to be a powerful mechanism for responding to conflicts within schools. Many factors are necessary to make peer mediation programs work. First, it is crucial to secure administrative support and win over reluctant faculty. Also it is necessary to break into the peer culture, train, overcome logistic challenges, and empower students to make broader use of the skills they have gained. These factors are discussed next.
Administrative support. Aquiring the support of administrators is necessary in order for a peer mediation program to work. The Principal sets the overall vision and philosophy of a school. If peer mediation is going to work, it must be a part of this. Conflict resolution strategies need to be part of the schools written discipline code and reinforced using it. Without administrative support, this is not going to happen. One teacher reiterated the importance of administrative support: Oh, I think that’s the whole issue. If you don’t have administrator support, the staff isn’t going to buy into it. It’s just not going to happen. You have to have some leadership who believes that this has some value. [If not,] you just don’t get the referrals. You don’t get the buy in from the faculty (Moran, 2001). Once you win over the administration, the principals will admit how it helps them. It frees up a large amount of their time that they would have spent dealing with student disputes. It cuts down on violence in the school. A student body equipped with conflict resolution skills definitely makes their lives and job easier
Winning Over the Faculty. Another big challenge with the peer mediation program was getting faculty members to buy in and to get them to write referrals to the program. It is important that a school use a variety of strategies to get the word out and show the value of the services of a conflict resolution program. Mock mediation demonstrations at faculty meetings and at school-wide assemblies is one method. You could try using drama students and student mediators to produce a video tape of the mediation process. You could also make announcements and send memos to continually remind the faculty that mediation services were still available and to encourage referrals. Even when using a variety of methods, winning over faculty members can be a slow and difficult process. Schools, however, with an active peer mediation program reported steady progress once teachers and administrators began to see positive results (Ghaffar, 2009).
Peer culture. Breaking into the youth culture, making it acceptable to use peer mediation can be one the most challenging obstacles in implementing a peer mediation program (Moran, 2001). High School students can be the most difficult to convince to buy in. One assistant principal explained: I think the most frustrating thing was that although now we have kids in this building who have been exposed to mediation from about the sixth grade up, it’s still culturally not acceptable for the high school student to use mediation. When we have, they have been very satisfied. But it’s very difficult to talk a student into using mediation. What they say, when you press them hard enough, is “That’s kids’ stuff.” (Moran, 2001). Even though it is tough, mediators at the high school level have been very successful at breaking down some very heated and emotionally charged situations. Adults should be near when mediation is taking place, but they should not be in the room. The reason students like mediation and a big factor in making it successful in the high school, is that it is student led. Students who experience successful mediation spread the word and get more students to try it and this leads to more students buying in.
Training. Ongoing training is very important for a successful mediation program that continues. A successful program requires well-trained students and teachers. Finding money to pay trainers can often motivate people to participate. Everyone likes to be paid. Finding this money can be difficult but it is worth it. If this cannot be done, you can also incorporate the training into established classes. Students who complete the class don’t necessarily have to become a mediator but those who do are usually very good at it.

Logistic challenges. Schools struggle with a variety of logistic challenges in implementing peer mediation programs. There are a lot of obstacles to overcome. Finding time when a mediator and the parties can meet is an issue. Many teachers do not like students missing class time so they do not like students to be pulled from class for mediation so finding a time when all parties are free, is difficult. Lunchtime can be a good time for mediation. Before and after school are also possibilities. Another big obstacle faced by is that when key members graduate or leave the school. Changes in leadership are often tough. Sometimes, however, new leadership can be good. New leaders can bring new energy and are good for a program. Maintaining a program once it is started is a chore as well, but if results are seen that is motivation to do what it takes to keep it going.
Empowering students to train others. Another big stumbling block to fledgling peer mediation programs is that they sometimes do not have enough referrals to keep all of their mediators busy. These mediators spend a considerable amount of time training. When not used, they became discouraged and eventually drop out of the program. To alleviate this problem, some schools found other ways to use their trained mediators. They began teaching mediation skills to teachers and students in nearby elementary schools. Sometimes, this outreach and the helping of others can keep a program going strong. All of this is a great experience for students. What is important is that students feel useful. It helps them look at themselves differently. Empowering students to reach out to train others in the skills they mastered can renew excitement and vigor in the program (Ghaffar, 2009). A good peer mediation program can help make a school come alive and can help a school in ways it may never have imagined.
A third approach schools can use to draw awareness to their conflict management programs is through special events. These events can be used to teach alternative methods of resolving conflicts, to celebrate diversity, to motivate students to make a commitment to choosing peaceful alternatives, and to publicize other conflict resolution initiatives (Ghaffar, 2009). Examples could include holding a peace breakfast, peace rally, or peace march. Another might be holding a multicultural fair. There are many different events that could be useful in promoting this issue.
Effective conflict resolution programs can definitely improve the overall school environment. A good program will lead to the reduction of disruptive and violent incidents that occur in a school. It will also decrease the number of absences, suspensions, and disciplinary actions. The benefit that results from this is that a school now has more time to focus on what a school’s purpose should be—providing a good education for its students. The students will continue to gain more confidence in themselves. They will develop more self respect, and they will become better overall citizens at school and in their neighborhoods and communities.
Conflict management education is an important and effective strategy to help schools combat the problems of youth violence and to give students essential skills that they need to be productive citizens (Ghaffar, 2009). In some schools, programs grow and become outstanding. In other schools, they limp along, struggle with obstacles, and face challenges that make full implementation difficult. The extent to which programs have proved to show improvement in a school varies. More information is needed. Some schools say conflict resolution education has helped to a limited extent in their schools. Some schools say they have seen dramatic changes including reductions in the number of serious problems in their schools such as fighting and suspensions. What has been shown by schools who have implemented conflict resolution programs is students learn to resolve conflicts on their own, and this is an important skill every human being needs to function in our society. A conflict resolution should be imperative in all schools. You are much better off spending your time trying to get to the root of the kids’ problems than you are trying to make the place a prison, you really are (Ghaffar, 2009). It is clear that conflict resolution education can help a school become a more positive, safe environment for students which allows them to focus on their education instead of worrying about other things. Youth violence is a major concern in our nation’s schools today and in society as a whole. All should be concerned. It is encouraging to find evidence of a cost-effective intervention that is having a lasting impact in school (Moran, 2001). Jones (2004) says exposure to conflict resolution and peer mediation reduces personal conflict and increases the tendency to help others with their conflicts, increases prosocial values, decreases aggressiveness, and increases perspective taking and conflict resolution. Teaching youth who will be our leaders of tomorrow the skills they need to manage conflict in their lives and the lives of others is an invaluable skill that should be a part of every young person’s education.

Sweeney, B. & Caruthers, W.L. (1996). Conflict Resolution: History, Philosophy, Theory, and and Educational Applications. School Conselor, 43, 327.
Tschannen-Moran, M. (2001). The Effects of State-Wide Conflict Management Initiative in Schools. American Secondary Education, 29, p. 3.
Johnson & Johnson (1976). Ibid, p. 3.
Ghaffar, A. (2009). Conflict in Schools: Its Causes & Management Strategies. Journal of Managerial Sciences, 3(2), 212-227. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
Kinard, J. (1988). Management, Toronto: D.C. Health and Company. P. 303.Turnuklu, A., Kacmaz, T., Sunbul, D., & Ergul, H. (2010). Effects of Conflict Resolution and Peer Mediation Training in a Turkish High School. Australian Journal of Guidance & Counselling, 20(1), 69-80. doi:10.1375/ajgc.20.1.69.
Jones, S.T. (2004). Conflict Resolution Education: The Field, the Findings, and the Future. Conflict Resolution Quarterly, 22 (1-2), 233-267.

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...Course Title: Instructor’s Name: Conflict Identification and Resolution Conflict is a strong disagreement between people, groups that results in an angry argument. It can also be difference that prevents agreements. It leads into a dramatic action in form of a fight or war. Conflict occurs between people of all kinds of human relationships and in all social settings mostly because of the potential difference among people. There are varies sources of conflict: economic conflict, value conflict and power conflict. * Economic conflict it involves competing motives to attain scarce resources in a certain area. Both party wants to get the most that it can. The behavior and emotions of each party are directed towards maximizing it again. * Value conflict this involves incompatibility in ways of life, ideologies, principles and practices that peoples believes in. conflict like international often have a strong value component where each side asserts the rightness and superiority of it way of life and its political economic system. The cold war is one of the example of value conflict * Power conflict this occurs when each party wishes to maintain the amount of influence that it exerts in the relationship and social settings. In this there is a power struggle which ends in victory and defeat since it is impossible for them both party to win. It is impossible for one party to be stronger without the other one being weaker. Power conflict can occur between......

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Boyz N The Hood Essay

...‘furious’ Styles teaches his son the importance of settling conflict in non-violent means. This is demonstrated when Tre eventually opts out of seeking revenge on the gang members that killed Ricky, likely due to the lessons learned from his father about the consequences of this violence. Baker had no male role model to teach civil conflict resolution; consequently, he resorts to behaviour such as threatening rivals with a firearm, which eventually leads to his brother’s death. Academic literature supports the examples seen in the film. Indeed, a study conducted by Parker and Maggard (2009) for African-American males over the age of 16 found that the availability of black male role models reduced the occurrence of aggravated assaults by 24%. The examples seen in the film and support from academic research is significant because it demonstrates two different learning processes for conflict resolution: a violent and aggressive approach and a civil approach. Hence, the film and research represent differential association theory, specifically the notion that criminal behaviour is largely influence by their intimate personal groups. Furthermore, it proves the importance of father figures to the socialization of young community members. Overall, adult male role models are essential for the socialization of younger members of the community, specifically in helping them develop socially accepted behaviours and conflict resolution...

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