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Considering options and results in teen conflict resolution.



Part one of this article on conflict resolution was about defusing a situation, gathering pieces of the story, and reacting appropriately to set an example and build positive adult/youth partnerships for the benefit of all youth involved. Some of the following options can be used in combination.

  Option A. Remove offenders while other continue the activity, cancel the activity, or have offending youth watch from the sidelines. Result: this red-flags the situation for youth who may not have been aware of the incident. May cause unnecessary questions, concerns, and fear. Can be embarrassing, but if offenders have a conscience can be all that is needed and a punishment of its own. Decide if embarrassment if necessary and carefully weigh this against the offense and knowledge of the individuals involved. The need to "save face" may override positive effects of peer pressure.

 Option B. Use the situation as an example for youth not involved or keep the incident quiet. Result: red-flagging an incident may cause unnecessary embarrassment and delay further activity. Determine if a lesson can be learned by uninvolved youth that might benefit the immediate activity. If irrelevant, discuss the lesson at a later time. Follow up should take place while memory is fresh, but does not always have to be immediate.
   Option C. Contact other caregivers of offending youth. Result: doing this should depend on severity and whether other activities need to be carried out at the time. In a classroom situation, offenders might be sent to the office, but immediate support is not always available. Some internal regulations may determine this as well. Immediate contact of caregivers can cause delays and sometimes unnecessary upsets. It may be possible to make contact later or it may not be required at all. Most importantly, determine if caregivers can supply follow up and support as a team for the youth's benefit.
   Option D. Hold a "tribunal" of youth peers. Result: teaches responsibility. In some cases might cause additional animosity. Decide if the youth offender needs to save face as this can lead to anger issues. Some youth groups have built-in community circles which work very well; it depends on internal relationships and does not work as well with strangers. Asking youth to decide how to resolve the situation does not mean you need to act on it. Having them consider action and consequence is a useful teaching tool. Do not say anything, be an observer. Listen. Watch. How it unfolds will teach you much.
   Option E. Get more information. Once danger is removed, time is on your side. Before making decisions, interview all parties involved and get the story from each. Information we receive in the heat of the moment will be distorted by emotion. Let everyone cool down first but don't wait until memory is lost. Interview offenders and witnesses individually to avoid "he said, she said" finger pointing and intimidation.
Watch for Part three of this article: Interviewing Techniques.
For more info: read part one "Stop! Get the whole story before reacting." by Lorna MacDonald Czarnota.