Community Mediation Foundation
The Community Mediation Foundation was first established by the Better Business Bureau of North Alabama, Inc., as Community Mediation Center, in March 1992. It became a Foundation in December 1999, operating as a separate entity, governed by a Board of Directors, made up of local business leaders. The CMF is 501 c (3) non-profit organization.
The purpose of the CMF is to provide conciliation, mediation, and arbitration services to the public, for resolving disputes. Another important service of the CMF is the training programs that teach peaceful conflict resolution methods and good customer service.
Those programs include peer mediation training for students, adult mediation training, conflict resolution and customer service, anger & stress management, teambuilding and professional telephone skills and business & professional ethics. Training programs may be customized to meet the need of the business or industry. Many of those programs qualify for continuing education units.
Peer mediation is a program that trains students in grades 4-12 to mediate disputes between their peers. As mediators the students help others resolve their conflicts peaceably thereby reducing the incidents of fighting and/or discipline referrals in their school. Using the mediation process and by their example the student mediators teach their peers that almost any conflict they encounter can be resolved peaceably. This program has proven to reduce the incidents of school violence by as much as 35% in those schools that use it regularly. The student suspension rate decreases as students learn to solve their conflicts peaceably. The skills learned with peer mediation carry throughout the lives of the students making them better problem solvers as adults and more productive citizens.
Ø Decreases number of discipline problems
Ø Reduces time spent on discipline
Ø Gives more time for teaching.
Ø Increased attendance due to decreased suspensions
Ø Builds self-esteem
Ø Teaches positive communication
Ø Builds responsible, productive citizens
Ø Builds integrity and mutual respect
Ø Peer mediation teaches students to solve their problems without fighting.
Ø 20-25 students from each school level are trained to be mediators and mediate disputes between fellow students.
Ø Mediators allow parties to vent anger.
Ø Mediators ask questions about the situation.
Ø Mediators identify issues and feelings.
Ø Mediators facilitate discussion with disputants regarding solutions.
Ø Disputants reach a mutual agreement.
Ø Mediators put student agreements in writing.
Ø Disputants sign the agreement.
Ø Most mediated disputes are settled.
Ø No name-calling or put-downs.
Ø Do not interrupt when someone else is talking.
Ø Only one person speaks at a time.
Ø Be as honest as you can
Ø Everything discussed will be kept confidential…except drugs, alcohol, weapons on school property and abuse.
Ø Schools need peer mediation programs.
Ø Why? Because conflict is a normal part of life.
Ø Proper conflict management skills aren’t taught in most schools.
Ø Productive conflict management is essential for success.
Ø Violence among youth is increasing.
Ø Today’s youth are tomorrow’s leaders.
Decrease: Fights *Referrals Suspensions
Meek Elementary 6% 32% 67%
Winfield Middle 20% 10% 30%
Madison Co. Mid. 18% 5% 0
Ed White Middle 10% 47% 20%
Ohatchee High 40% 40% 40%
Other schools reporting had successful mediation programs but did not have the figures to report percentages.
*Office referrals for discipline problems.
The cost of a peer mediation program through the CMF is $1,500.00. It includes a two-day training for a selected group of students plus a 2-hour conflict management workshop for the school faculty. The cost of training a new group of students each succeeding year is $500.00 plus travel expenses. Statistics from schools using peer mediation have proven that it works. For more information on peer mediation or to sponsor a peer mediation program, please call 539-2118 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anne Isbell is Executive Director of the CMF. She began her employment with the Better Business Bureau of North Alabama in 1989. She became Director of the Auto Line Division in 1991, Director of the Mediation Center in 1992 and Executive Director of the Foundation in 1999. She has served on the Alabama Supreme Court Commission on Dispute Resolution since 1994 and also served on the Governor Siegleman’s Council on Safe Schools. She serves as a mediator for the U. S. Postal Service Redress Program and for the Community Mediation Foundation, as well as trainer for peer mediation and adult mediation /conflict management programs.
Anne was instrumental in establishing the Madison County District Court Mediation program in 1999 and served as the coordinator/mediator until a permanent coordinator could be found. She is dedicated to teaching peaceful conflict resolution methods through the use of mediation skills.