OREGON COUNTY -- Approximately 150 seventh and eighth grade students and sponsors attended a peer mediation training workshop June 6-9 at Southwest Missouri State University in West Plains.
The workshop is in its sixth year and is designed to train students how to help their fellow students resolve conflicts without violence.
Attending from Couch School were sponsor Reba Wood, Cassie Roberts, Rebecca See, Devin Fraley and Jason Sorrell.
"In response to 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 workshop organizers. "At the camp students are 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 groups have been started throughout the country. She said reports indicate these programs have significantly reduced the number of physical fights on school grounds.
The four-day workshop is hosted by SMSU-WP and the 37th Judicial Circuit Juvenile Office in West Plains.
Several school counselors from around the area serve on the planning committee for the workshop with Garrett as well as 37th Judicial Circuit juvenile officer Stan Smith.
Couch School is the only school district in Oregon County to participate in the project.
Financial assistance for the workshop was provided by the Glass Sword Cinema, Foster Feeds, McDonald's, the noon Rotary Club in West Plains and West Plains Bank and Trust Co.