Don't Hate! Peer Mediate!
CNVS Education Coordinator Claire Schaeffer-Duffy speaks on the joys and challenges of running a high school peer mediation. Come learn how kids can play an important role in creating a culture of peace within their school. Discussion to follow. Lots of good resources available on how to start your own peer mediation program.
Thursday, November 30th
143 Highland Street, Worcester, MA 01609
Bring a friend. Appetizers are on us.
Background: Ms. Schaeffer-Duffy, Dan Margolis, and Matt Shorten are in year two of co-facilitating a peer mediation program at Claremont Academy. Using a sequential process, high school students help "battling" middle schoolers find a nonviolent resolution to their conflict. Claremont now has two cohorts of trained peer mediators. In addition to negotiating mediations, these mediators will soon be facilitating school advisories. Claremont's story, a tale of challenges as well as successes, represents one small effort to build a culture of peace within a school using its greatest resource - the students themselves.
RSVP on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/1781323392160354/
CNVS Statement on U.S. Mass Shootings
As board members and staff at the Center for Nonviolent Solutions, we abhor the mass shootings that have now plagued our country for two decades.
We have a violence problem in the United States and it is exacerbated by guns.
Even a partial list of recent American mass shootings is staggering: Columbine High School, Amish School in Lancaster County, Knoxville UU Church, Charleston EAME Church, Aurora theater, Orlando nightclub, Sandy Hook School, Las Vegas concert and Sutherland Springs Church.
But while mass shooting grab the headlines, most gun violence occurs in our cities daily. And we have become immune to it. We are only shocked and moved to action when the violence escapes the cities and enters the suburbs and rural America. In Chicago, there were 58 gun deaths in only 28 days. That is the number of people killed in Las Vegas in October. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/10/06/us/las-vegas-gun-deaths.html
The correlation between gun ownership and violent deaths in the United States could not be clearer. We have many times more guns in private hands, and many times more gun deaths, than any other country.
According to a recent analysis by the New York Times (November 7, 2017), in 2013, gun violence from suicides, homicides and accidents resulted in nearly 32,888 deaths. That same year, Japan, with 1/3 of America’s population, had 13 gun deaths. An American is 300 times more likely than a Japanese person to die by gunshot.
The National Rifle Association, as its name implies, began as a hunters’ organization, but when hunting declined, and more and more Americans became city-dwelling non-hunters, the NRA changed its emphasis to convince home owners to buy handguns for self-defense. However, handguns make homes far less safe. With a gun in the home a family member is 22 times more likely to be shot than an intruder.
Our lawmakers have responded to pressures from the NRA and failed to make improvements in our gun laws. Our lawmakers will respond to public pressure when enough of us speak out. We can write letters and make phone calls to urge our congressmen and women and our senators to support building a culture of peace and more restrictions on gun ownership.
We can join and support organization and initiatives such as:
Assault Weapons Ban of 2017 recently introduced by Senator Diane Feinstein. https://www.feinstein.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2017/11/senators-introduce-assault-weapons-ban
Goods for Guns program in Worcester, and its National Gun Buyback Day on December 16 https://www.gunbuybacks.org
The Brady Campaign https://www.bradycampaign.org/
Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America https://momsdemandaction.org/
Everytown for Gun Safety https://everytown.org/contact-us/
Coalition to Stop Gun Violence https://www.csgv.org/
Americans for Responsible Solutions https://giffords.org/
Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence http://lawcenter.giffords.org/
Center for Nonviolent Solutions in promoting a culture of peace and finding alternatives to violence https://www.nonviolentsolutions.org/
Together we can promote a culture of peace and make our nation a less angry, less violent, more peaceful country.
Brian Leonard Reflects on Social Justice Happy Hour
Here's a report from Brian Leonard, who shared with us at the October 19th Social Justice Happy Hour his experiment with peace practices in his public school classroom:
About 15-20 people attended the Social Justice Forum at the Sahara Restaurant, which offered the best Mediterranean vegetarian cuisine offered by Farid Aoude and his kind family. It was a warm, friendly place to gather, share food, and learn from peace workers in the community. I attempted to present a few concrete classroom actions educators can practice as ways to start building a culture of peace in our schools...It is necessary to also recognize the many layers of violence in our cultures, institutions, workplaces, and schools. Within this culture of violence, there are actions we can promote to create a culture of peace in resistance to the culture of violence. I argued that promoting peace is an act of resistance to the prevailing (hegemonic) culture of violence. Peace as resistance is challenging for educators who are confronted with tyrannical mandates (excessive/continuous testing, zero tolerance policies that lead to the school-to-prison pipeline, etc.), bullying bosses, and overwork due to short-staffing. At least 20 out of the 2-300 students on my floor appeared in court last year—Worcester has for years had once of the highest rates of suspending Latinos in the nation—while also suspending students with learning disabilities at an excessive rate. When the schools are short-staffed by over 600 teachers according to the Massachusetts Foundation Budget Review Commission, a bipartisan government study on the inadequate funding of public schools. I discussed some ways that educators and their unions, in concert with the community, promoted fully-funded peace practices from the “bottom-up”—in solidarity/grassroots movements. In order to be fully functional, restorative peace and justice must be fully supported with training, funding, time, staffing, etc. Top-down mandates to educators and students manifest as another duty to an already over-burdening workload. When educators and students are not supported by dedicated programming, staffing, support, etc. peace practices do not always work. It will take time, effort, and a commitment to building a culture of peace that will bring forth the fruits of our work for peace and justice.
Other peace workers were able to share their thoughts and experiences in reflecting on this issue. One of the re-emerging questions was: what prevents or blocks educators and others from promoting peace practices in schools? While the event ended at 7pm, a few “peace-riders” stayed for a couple of more hours. Participants felt a great need for the support of a forum to cultivate a fledgling culture of peace in our communities. One person was not able to share, but expressed great interest and a willingness to speak for an hour on this issue. Others who stayed left their contact information for their interest in developing peace forums. We all look forward to hearing the stories of the peer mediators on November 30.
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