A new program is training Mississippi students how to be mediators in their schools in hopes of cutting down on violence and disputes.

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Mississippi Schools Trying Peer Mediation Programs

By Daniel Cherry | Published 12 Dec 2011 11:01am | comments
30 students at Jim Hill High School graduate into the TAP program

Learning how to handle conflict can be one of the most difficult parts of growing up for a teen. MPB’s Daniel Cherry reports how a new program is aimed at teaching Mississippi students to talk about problems instead of resorting to violence.

Peer mediation programs have gained popularity across the nation in recent years, but they haven't really gained traction in Mississippi schools. Now some schools are giving it a shot. Austin Davis is a senior at Jim Hill High School in Jackson and one of the first students to complete training in a program called TAP, Talking About Problems.

“We have several students and all of them are so passionate in what they believe in and they try to get their points across. When they do that, it starts conflict because, of course, we’re all different people. We all have different views about things. That’s one of the things I think I can help with because I can see both sides.”

“Egos with kids, then you have peer pressure, and if you don’t know another way to go about it then that’s the path you’ll take. The violent path because the kids don’t know how to go about compromising. That’s what it all about, compromising.”

The communication skills the students learn can be applied in everyday situations in their lives and future careers. Ahmad Smith is in his second year at the Mississippi College School of Law. He’s looking into TAP to see how law students can help the teens succeed.

The Institute for Southern Jewish Life is behind implementing the program. They’re hoping to expand to more schools. Malkie Schwartz is a counselor with TAP. She says teaching teens how to resolve conflict peacefully will help keep the students out of trouble.

“The students end up really gaining an appreciation for talking through a problem and noticing that those produce many alternatives and many options for how to resolve a conflict. And so that in a way is more of a position of strength.”

Jim Hill High School is only the second school in the state to implement the TAP program.

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30 students at Jim Hill High School graduate into the TAP program


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