More diversity in school mediation groups

Several hundred Quebec primary schools have a peer mediation program. Students are trained to act as mediators for other students in the schoolyard and during school outings. As a general rule, behaviourally disordered students are automatically excluded from becoming mediators. These young people are also the most reluctant to trust the student mediators, because they consider them to be too "perfect" and unable to understand their problems.

Université Laval research professor Claire Beaumont has demonstrated the importance of including all types of students in mediation groups. After endeavouring to identify the conditions under which a behaviourally disordered student may assume the role of mediator, she wrote a guide based on her observations, in order to help school practitioners to facilitate their integration into the program. She then observed the integration process and its impact on the student mediators.

The researcher has demonstrated the importance of including all types of students in mediation groups.

Beaumont primarily noted that these student mediators require more sustained guidance than others, in particular in the event of an unsuccessful mediation. These young people tend to take this type of failure extremely personally, which may lead to problem behaviour. In addition, she observed that the students feel useful at school and develop a stronger sense of belonging. Their role as mediator produces a reversal of the situation in which they so often find themselves: they are no longer the "problem case" that needs to be dealt with, but part of the solution for helping others.

Nevertheless, Beaumont observed a strong resistance on the part of teachers and school practitioners; there is still a lot of work to be done before convincing them of the benefits of this approach.