Institution Granting Degree
School violence, Elementary school, Peer mediation, Violence
Studies and statistical reports have revealed school violence as an issue of ongoing concern. Research has identified the media, early parent child interactions, and peer interactions as primary socializing agents in the development of aggression. Middle childhood, the elementary school years, has been identified as a key period of concern for the development of aggression and engaging in acts of violence. Studies have identified school-based peer mediation and conflict resolution programs, particularly those that incorporate cognitive behavioral approaches grounded in social learning theory, as tools for combating school violence. Peer mediation programs teach positive peer interactions and social skills to students who, in turn, model those behaviors which are internalized by other students who begin to accept the standards and values of the program within the school community (i.e., social learning). Educators, specifically school counselors, are being called upon to create, implement, and conduct internal evaluations of school-based mediation and conflict resolution programs. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of the Peace Pal peer mediation program implemented in September 2000 at an elementary school in Tidewater, Virginia. This outcome-oriented objectives-based internal program evaluation utilizes a quantitative and qualitative mixed-method quasi-experimental approach to assess program effectiveness in five domains: (a) frequency of out of school suspensions, (b) knowledge pertaining to conflict, conflict resolution, and mediation, (c) success of conflict resolution in peer mediation sessions, (d) participant perceptions of mediation session value, and (e) mediator perceptions of program value. Results of the study indicate the Peace Pal program is effective in reducing school-wide violence, increases Peace Pal knowledge pertaining to mediation and conflict resolution, experiences successful conflict resolve during mediation sessions, and participants and Peace Pals perceive peer mediation sessions and the Peace Pal program as valuable, respectively.