Conflict Resolution & Peacemaking

Conflict Resolution and Peacemaking Student Truancy: Issues and Solutions Psy/400 – Social Psychology July 26, 2010 Student Truancy – Issues and Solutions The article I chose to address is titled “Reaching Out to Youth Out of the Education Mainstream” (Ingersol & LeBoeuf, 1997). The subjects are the issues of student truancy, the effects on educational institutions, society, and effects on the truant youth. The stated conflict is one of finding a way to address student truancy that supports students, and parents to affect long-term positive educational and social outcomes.

The peacemaking aspect is described in the “best practices” techniques used to address the individual needs of the student in support of return to school in a way relevant to the truant student. A long history of negative effects of not addressing early truancy of a student exists, including that the student loses learning opportunities, the schools loses average daily attendance payments, the parents are stressed because they are unsure were their child is during school hours, and society suffers because of increased crime. Unexcused absence from school is an early warning that the youth is becoming at risk for academic failure, suspension, or expulsion. It is a first precursor to delinquency and day-time crime” (Gary, 1996, as noted in Gonzales & Mullins, 2004, p. 5). Juvenile justice truancy cases are likely to be adjudicated, and youth sentenced to formal probation, creating a juvenile arrest record, and a self-perpetuating negative (Puzzanchaera, Stahl, Finnegan, Tierney, & Snyder, 2003).

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Youth truancy affects the individual’s adult life. The National Center for Education Statistics, 1999, noted that “men who drop out of high school earn approximately 75% of what their counterparts with a high school education earn, with females earning only 60% of their counterparts” (p. 5). Society pays a high price for student truancy. According to a study by Austin, (1993) 83% of inmates under the age of 18 had not completed middle or high school (Gonzales & Mullins, 2004).

Varied are the causes of youth truancy, from fear of violence, unidentified and unaddressed learning disabilities, negative role models in the community of other truant youth, negative parental attitudes toward education, negative attitudes and lack of training of teachers who work with at-risk populations, and the absence of stimulating and relevant curriculum. All of these conflicts create can create an atmosphere of submission of the student to evitable failure.

The act of conflict resolution and peacemaking with the ultimate goal of returning the student to the classroom calls for varying resolution and solution strategies. Two promising programs address this important problem. The Youth Out of the Mainstream Initiative Program, (YOEM Initiative), goal is to “effectively manage and serve youth who have fallen, or are in danger of falling out of the educational mainstream” (Gonzales & Mullins, 2004, p. 4). The YOEM Initiative uses several conflict resolution strategies to address the issues of youth truancy.

At the core, communication and cooperation are essential. Group interventions and mentorships work to address the problem at the onset, and support the youth returning to school. Discussing a problem creates a group identity, which solidifies group concern for a successful outcome. Especially when people solve problems on a personal level it encourages and supports a commitment to cooperation (Meyers, 2008). Communication creates an “us” perspective that includes the truant youth, parents, and schools finding solutions together.

Prevention programs assist mainstream schools in creating a peaceful learning environment, with specialized teacher training, and by guiding the youth to join extracurricular activities, and after-school programs. In addition, YOEM uses in-school suspension to keep the youth on campus, working in a small classroom, and receiving mentoring and tutoring to facilitate the completion of assignments. “Conflict management and peer mediation programs are spreading rapidly, in part because the public demands that schools do something to stem truancy and violence.

Many are enthusiastic about the positive program effects they have experienced” (Bickmore, 2008, p. 4). Youth courts are examples of programs expanding across the nation to address truancy and other student issues. Youth courts address beginning truancy behaviors of students before the problem becomes more serious. “In 2004, there were more than 940 active youth courts in the United States” (National Youth Court Center, 2004, as noted in Gonzales & Mullins, 2004, p. 6).

A youth court requires commitment by school staff, a judge who has adopted the school, and attorneys to train student peers to serve as plaintiff and defense counsel, court clerks, and most important youth juries who hand down consequences to offenders. Several benefits exist from using youth courts for conflict resolution to stem school truancy. Using negotiation and contracts, youth courts hold truants accountable for their behavior through positive peer pressure and challenge them to accept responsibility for their actions.

By using constructive communication, youth courts can connect young people to appropriate community services to address ancillary issues causing truancy (Gonzales & Mullins, 2004). Schools benefit by using youth courts because it offers a timely response to truancy rather than the usual lengthy referral to the juvenile justice system and students are more inclined to accept the jury decision of their peers. The juvenile justice system saves manpower and money by being relieved of addressing the truancy of early offenders and can spend time on more serious issues.

The youth court setting allows parents to set clear expectations, by joining of forces with schools, and peers to solve the problem of their child’s truancy (Riesch, Gray, Hoeffs, Keenan, Ertyl, & Mathison, 2003). Agreeing to consequences that address the specific needs of the youth provides an opportunity to improve the behavior and to become a successful member of society. Communities strive to solve the student truancy problem to ensure that youth receive the education necessary to become contributing members of society.

The two programs noted provide examples of how communities are taking matters into their own hands. The conflict resolution and peacemaking techniques used in intervention and youth court programs allow truant youth to take personal responsibility for their actions, fostering communication, and cooperation. The key to success in a truant youth conflict resolution and peacemaking effort is to create a program that invites communication, teaches problem-solving techniques, and supports the youth to address the reasons for truancy.

References Bickmore, K. (20080. Teaching conflict resolution across the curriculum. Orbit 37(2/3), (p. 98-102). Retrieved from: CBCA Complete. (Document ID: 1537442641). Gonzales, R. & Mullins, T. G. , (2004). Addressing truancy in youth court programs. Evaluation of OJJDP’s Truancy Reduction Demonstration Project. Retrieved from: www. OJJDP. org Ingersoll, S. , & LeBoeuf, D. , (1997, February). Reaching out to youth out of the education mainstream. Retrieved from: www. ncurs. gov/pdffiles/163928. pdf. Meyers, D. G. (2008). Social psychology. (9th ed. ). San Francisco, CA: McGraw Hill Companies. Puzzanchera. C. , Stahl, AlL. , Finnegan, T. A. , Tierney, N. & Snyder, H. N. (2003, July). Juvenile court statistics. Pittsburgh, PA: National Center for Juvenile Justice. Riesch, S. K. , Gray, J. , Hoeffs, M. , Keenan, T. , Ertyl, T. , & Mathison, K. (2003, January) (vol. 17) (1) (p. 22-31). Conflict and conflict resolution: Parent and young teen perceptions. Retrieved from: http://www. jpedhc. org/article/Sp891-5245%2802%2988324-9. | |

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