Maryland Schools Using Conflict Resolution To Curb Bullying, Suspensions | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

WAMU 88.5 : News

Filed Under:

Maryland Schools Using Conflict Resolution To Curb Bullying, Suspensions

Play associated audio
Students at Sligo Middle School in Silver Spring hold weekly dialogue circles to share emotions problems and resolve disputes.
Armando Trull/WAMU
Students at Sligo Middle School in Silver Spring hold weekly dialogue circles to share emotions problems and resolve disputes.

Almost a dozen schools in Maryland, from elementary to high schools are engaging students in a conflict resolution strategy. It's part of a push to follow new national guidelines to reduce school suspensions and keep juveniles out of the justice system.

Students at Sligo Middle School in Silver Spring begin their week by arranging desks into a "restorative dialogue circle."

"It's an alternative to a strictly punitive model of discipline in which students are given the opportunity to talk through what's happened and then collaboratively they can come up with solutions," says Barbara Sugarman Grochal, with the University of Maryland's law school.

Emma Polito, 14, has participated in dialogue circles for almost three years.

"We get into less fights and it's easier to solve things and people come to me for help if they need it," Polito says.

Dillon Harding, 13, began the circles four weeks ago.

"It's helped a lot because now I can trust a lot more people, especially my friends," Harding says. "Because usually I don't really tell them a lot about myself, but now  I feel free to tell them whatever I want to tell them."

Those pebbles of kindness are creating broader ripples, says Eric Wilson, Sligo's principal.

"A lot of the typical bullying behavior does get diminished and that's been shown in our referral data," Wilson says. "Our suspension data has gone way down — I would say 80 percent from our time last year."

Advocates are hoping these circles will break the pipeline feeding young people of color into the juvenile justice system on a macro level.

NPR

Like 'Dynasty' On Ice: The Nancy Kerrigan And Tonya Harding Museum

Why would a couple of comedians build a museum in their hallway dedicated to figure skaters in 1994? Because the story of their rivalry, Kerrigan's attack and the media frenzy is just so American.
NPR

This Robot Chef Has Mastered Crab Bisque

The system, a pair of robotic arms, learned to cook by mimicking the motions of a top chef. Even though it can't smell or taste, its maker says the robot should be able to make 2,000 meals by 2017.
WAMU 88.5

Morale Is Low Among Government Workers, But What Can Be Done?

Lawmakers are awaiting the results of a Government Accountability Office on low morale across federal agencies. But can Congress help fix a problem they played a large part in creating?

NPR

VW Camper Van Gets An Electric Makeover

Talk about a time warp! The iconic VW camper is getting a modern reboot. This time, it's electric.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.