Where Can Schools Turn for Help With Bullying?
The Prime Minister is Asking Schools to Review Their Anti Bullying Policies – But Where Can They Turn to for Help?
The Cool Schools Peer Mediation Programme teaches students lifelong conflict resolution skills, that they can use within their school to prevent bullying from happening but also outside of school within their own personal lives.
Managed by The Peace Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation, the programme has been implemented in 450 schools nationwide from primary through to secondary level.
The Cool Schools Programme provides positive, safe, proactive steps for solving problems. Schools that are implementing the programme report that in a high number of cases students’ disputes are settled permanently. “I think the Mediation programme has been invaluable in helping the students at our school. Often a student feels embarrassed or unsure of telling an adult about an issue they may have with another student, so being able to talk about it with someone around their age is perfect……Our school is a safer and more comfortable place thanks to Mediation; it is a safety net for those in trouble and a confidential and positive way for young people to learn how to better co-operate with each other.” (Year 13 Female Advanced Mediator)
The Ministry of Health currently funds 84 schools a year to undergo training, while other schools have to cover the cost themselves. During 2009 the Ministry of Education cut all its funding allocated to the Cool Schools Peer Mediation Programme. With over 50% of funding withdrawn, many schools nationwide have lost the opportunity to implement the programme as they cannot afford the cost of paying for the training and resources. This is despite The Peace Foundation offering the training at below cost, around $1,500 for a whole school training.
The Cool Schools Peer Mediation Programme works well as it is a prevention and intervention programme which empowers students to be role models in peaceful conflict resolution. They are provided with skills so that they can help take responsibility for keeping their school environment safe. This includes making themselves available to talk with students who are being bullied or who are doing the bullying!