Days of Dialogue                                                            Peer Mediation 

Just flip on the TV, your computer, your iPad, or open the newspaper. Violence is all around us. Does it have to be? No. Are there alternatives to violence? Yes.

Some of us are raised to believe that “might makes right” while others walk a mile around conflict to avoid it. We know that conflict is as much a part of life as breathing. But we also know that conflict can be constructive and positive, and it does not have to result in force or violence. We have to learn alternatives. The award-winning Institute for Nonviolence in Los Angeles focuses on training schools and their communities…and, it works like MAGIC.

It Takes a Community

Why not establish schools as community centers for dispute resolution? Conflict between students, teachers, parents, and police involve the entire community. Look beneath these conflicts and you see the deeper issues that only a community itself can solve through mediation – not violence.  Conflict is the tip-off and mediation is the solution. When a community begins to solve the deeper issues that create conflict – young people fighting, doing drugs, failing in school, parents who are checked out, teachers who can’t relate to kids, police who know only how to use force –  a healthier and more cooperative community emerges.

How We Got Here

In 2010, Avis Ridley-Thomas, founder of the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Dispute Resolution Program, and Buzz Wilms, UCLA Professor of Education, founded the Institute for Nonviolence in Los Angeles. The Institute provides a year-round series of undergraduate courses called “Restoring Civility: Understanding, Using, and Resolving Conflict.” The courses are sponsored by UCLA’s Education Department and by the Cesar E. Chavez Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies. The Peer Mediation Program provides training for more than 120 students each year at several schools in South Los Angeles. Students range in age from 8 – 18. The Peer Mediation Program is made possible by grant funding from the USC Good Neighbors Program.

Days of Dialogue, another of INVLA’s signature programs, produces community hosted events where people engage in constructive civic conversations around difficult issues.  Trained volunteer facilitators and mediators help to build the safe spaces where relationships can begin to be transformed, and new policies are developed. Recent dialogues have explored the Future of Policing, Bringing U.S. Together, and Reclaiming Tolerance and Civility in the Face of Violence.

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