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The Kid’s Guide To Working Out Conflicts (Book Review)

by Jon Linden
January 2005

Order at Amazon.com

Jon Linden
In Naomi Drew’s newest book she presents one of the very best exhortations and explanations ever written on Peer Mediation. Peer Mediation usually refers to the process of mediation between and with Children/Adolescents in school situations. Most books on the subject try to help schools develop “in school” programs to support a Peer Mediation Implementation. It has been definitively shown, that such a program provides an outlet, a forum to discuss and resolve conflicts that arise and such a forum significantly reduces school violence. The forum allows the release of frustration and retaliation in violent manners, especially by the abused.

While Ms. Drew’s book does indeed teach and explain the process and helps Schools develop such in house programs, it does much more than just that. The book is very specifically written not just for the Kids, but very much for the parents of the kids. The book can be related to by people of ages 12 to 114. It is written concisely and simply, and at the same time, incisively to get across the reasons and benefits of a Peer Mediation Program. She has specifically made huge efforts to make the book one that parents can read and relate to so they understand what their kids are trying to achieve and what the school is trying to achieve through a Peer Mediation Program.

Special Attribute Of The Explanation

The author has invested huge amounts of thought and care in the book to present the following concepts that make it a bell-weather book on the topic of Peer Mediation:

1) Team Earth

In the book, the concept of “Team Earth,” a concept which is holistic in nature is introduced and referred to throughout the book. The concept emphasizes that Peace is an objective of developed societies and that Peer Mediation is a significant contributor to making that objective a reality. All people of “Earth” should coordinate and cooperate to seek to endow their children with the concept of “World Peace” and people can help to achieve it, by joining with others holding the same objectives.

2) Multi- Ethnic Orientation

It is clear and even obvious upon reading the book, that Ms. Drew has made a concerted and successful effort to communicate that the concepts in this book are NOT ethnically oriented, but are People oriented. To emphasize this point, throughout the book, all names are used to focus the reader on the fact, that it does not matter what race, creed, color or religion people come from. It does matter that all people try to integrate the concepts of peaceful coexistence. And even more than that, they should work toward a mutual and worldwide understanding that peace is an honorable and worthy goal of societies. While the book talks about Peer Mediation in America, it clearly incorporates all cultures into the process.

3) Empirical Example & Survey Results

Throughout the book, Ms. Drew incorporates actual empirical examples of the use of Peer Mediation and how it can be applied to today’s school environment. In these examples, she often references a wide sample survey that she has conducted in the course of her work. The survey quotes indicate particular opinions and positions that Kids have expressed to her as important, and that buttress the benefits of Peer Mediation.

In addition, the examples of conflict resolutions and the ways in which resolutions can be created out of intense conflict, mostly through the use of targeted communication and understanding or empathy. The book very well articulates the huge benefits from the use of a conflict resolution platform in the school environment.

4) Concepts Explained In Plain English

It is a fact, that most of the books in the field of mediation are replete with industry jargon. This is often helpful in distinguishing one style or type of mediation from another. However, Ms. Drew recognizes clearly that it would NOT have been productive for her to include such jargon in her book, and she has not included such jargon in her explanations.

In contrast, what she has done is to use “plain language” to explain complex mediation concepts. The concepts are explained, and then they are put in context. And finally, they are supported by real life examples that the author has encountered during her work processes. In this way, she is able to communicate to readers of all ages and to explain concepts of the field of mediation, which heretofore, have not been explained in this careful and understandable manner.

5) Use of Vernacular

With wonderful aplomb, Ms. Drew has used current day, Kid’s vernacular throughout the book. She uses it sparingly, and with great precision, but she uses it effectively. Her objective in doing so is to help her readers relate to her subject. Her intent is well achieved with her use of these terms, such as one of her ‘mantras’, “stop, breathe, chill.”

Emphasis On Communication and Communication Skills

Much of Ms. Drew’s book focuses on the better use of communication. In order for her to help readers improve communication, she elucidates communication skills and how to integrate them in day to day life. This factor in and of itself, makes the book very worthwhile for any person to read and utilize.

Often adult mediators and writers of mediation books ignore the fact that most common problems are related to an inability of parties to communicate effectively without escalation of the underlying conflict. Ms. Drew teaches with great acumen, the manner in which proper communication with skills, allows one to reach further into the underlying explanation for the conflict, and beyond that, to implement the techniques in their daily activities and communications with other people.

Conclusion

As noted above, the book is suitable for people of almost all ages. The book represents a highly significant contribution to the literature, not just of Peer Mediation, but of Mediation in general. Would it be, that all people were to read her book, life would be so much more conflict free than it is today.

While use of the tools Ms. Drew introduces are dependent on people recognizing and overcoming internal prejudices, it surely helps people try to do that. If there is one book on mediation that you buy this year, try to make it this one.

Biography


Jon Linden is a Mediator, Trainer and Business Consultant. He holds an BS in biology and an MBA, both from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA. Jon spent 20 years in the Food Service Distribution business, where he was the COO and Sr. V-P of a Distribution Center of a major Fortune 500 company in the New York Metropolitan area, before becoming an independent consultant and Mediator. His responsibilities included Human Resources, Labor Relations and many other functions. He was the chairman of the company internal Ethics Committee for 6 years. Jon is a contract mediator for the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and mediates for the Superior Court system of the State of New Jersey, as well as for private clients. He is the President and Founder of Proactive Intervention, L.L.C. and an Accredited Professional Mediator (APM) for Civil/Commercial Mediation by the New Jersey Association of Professional Mediators.



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Website: www.mediate.com/proactive

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