WEST PLAINS -- Approximately 145 sixth, seventh and eighth grade students and their sponsors from the south central Missouri region attended a peer mediation training workshop in early June at Southwest Missouri State University-West Plains.
Four students from Couch School -- Logan McGhee, Zac Fling, Emily Bridges and Shantana Collins -- as well as their advisor, Reba Wood, attended the training sessions.
The workshop is in its fifth year and is designed to train students how to help their fellow students resolve conflicts without violence.
"Because of concerns about teen-age violence, many schools are implementing peer mediation programs which teach resolution of conflicts through good communication techniques," explained Kay Garrett, assistant professor of communications at SMSU-WP and one of the workshops organizers.
"At the camp, students were trained to mediate their peers when conflicts arise. Students involved in conflicts at school may request mediation by one of these trained students or may be referred to mediation by another student. Together with their peer mediators, the students work to find a solution they can accept in order to resolve their conflict."
Garrett pointed out that peer mediation programs have significantly reduced the number of physical fights on school grounds.
The four-day workshop, hosted by SMSU-WP and the 37th Judicial Circuit Juvenile Office, which Oregon County is a member of, was led by representatives from Progressive Youth Connection in St. Louis. The organization strives to enhance the healthy emotional, social and intellectual development of youth ages 5 through 18. It promotes a positive, violence-free school environment that helps develop academic and social skills for all children and teens, camp organizers said. Progressive Youth Connection conducts peer medication training throughout Missouri.
The students from Couch School were the only students in Oregon County who attended the workshop.
Financial assistance from the workshop was provided by the Citizens Advisory Board from the Office of Adult Probation in West Plains, The Glass Sword Cinema, McDonald's and West Plains Bank and Trust Co. Holiday Inn Express provided accommodations for the guest speakers.