When two students fight at school and are short-term suspended, both students are often sent to Rebound. There, the students — who would otherwise be stewing at home — sit down together with a trained mediator and create an agreement that enables them to resolve the fight before going back to school. Although most mediations involve two parties, groups of as many as 5 students have created agreements together at Rebound.
With invaluable support from the Elna B. Spaulding Conflict Resolution Center (CRC), 28 students have successfully completed mediation at Rebound this year. Though the standard suspension for fighting at many Durham Public Schools is 10 days, some principals have cut suspension lengths in half — to 5 days — for students who attend Rebound and complete mediation.
According to Pam Gray, Rebound’s Executive Director: “All of the mediations completed at Rebound this year (by CRC or Rebound staff) have been successful in that each mediation has resulted in an agreement created by the students themselves to end the conflict between them. After completing mediation, students who have been put out of school for fighting have moved on to work together at Rebound, eaten lunch side by side, and participated in group activities. Some of the students have become friends, while others have merely tolerated each other. The important thing is that the students have had the experience of settling a conflict without violence.”
The CRC sends trained mediators to Rebound and coaches and supports Rebound staff mediators. Rebound staff have also adopted the CRC’s conflict debriefing model, which is a structured interview process designed to help students reflect on the incident that led to their suspension. During incident debriefing with Rebound staff, students explore their thoughts and feelings surrounding the incident, discuss the impact it had on them and others, brainstorm alternatives, and discuss ways of moving forward in a positive way and “making things right”.