Congratulations to our Raffle Winner!

Winner of the 2012 Myrtle Beach Get-AWAY Raffle at MMS!

Congratulations to Bernita Jones, the Winner of our Myrtle Beach Fall Get-AWAY Raffle! – Ms. Jones lives in Swain County where she is employed at Swain County High School.  The really nice thing about her “fall get away?”  She is planning on giving it to her son and his new wife!  They will be visiting the beach in December.

Thanks to all who purchased raffle tickets.  Mountain Mediation Services raised $1,268 through ticket sales.  Proceeds support mediation services and trainings in bullying prevention, conflict resolution skills and peer mediation programming.

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MMS Picnic in Clyde-August 2012

The Haywood Advisory Committee hosted its annual picnic for MMS Volunteers on Sunday, August 26th. Volunteers and staff had a relaxing time visiting with one another, eating good food and listening to some mountain dulcimer music before dinner. Thanks to all the Haywood folks who made this beautiful afternoon a reality.

Some good conversation on a pleasant evening

Good Picnic Conversation

Mountain Mediation Services added a new tradition to the picnic by drawing the winner of the “Myrtle Beach Fall Get-AWAY” raffle at the picnic.  A teacher from Swain County won this year’s raffle.  Congratulations B. Jones! And many thanks to all the MMS’ Volunteers, Board Member and Staff for helping make this a successful fundraiser.

Winning Raffle Ticket being Drawn!

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Students Discuss Bullying Problems at Local Schools

This article is being reprinted with permission from The Mountaineer

Students Discuss Bullying Problems at Local Schools by Caroline Klapper

While bullying and being bullied are not new issues for the children of this generation, technology and social media, such as texting and Facebook, have created new opportunities for the problem to become even worse.

Today, about one in three middle and high school students are bullied, and one out of five students in the same age group have experienced “cyberbullying,” when the Internet or other technology is used to harass someone.

Being bullied, whether directly or through cyberspace, is an experience John Scroggs believes no child should have to endure. To help bring those alarming statistics down, Scroggs volunteers with Mountain Mediation Services to present an anti-bullying class to students in schools all over Haywood County.

“We’ve been told that if we can get (the anti-bullying message) to them by the sixth grade, we can made an impression,” he said.

Scroggs said he has seen bullying escalate in recent years, especially with the use of text messaging. He said it’s so much easier for children to be mean and even downright cruel to one another if they don’t have to do it in person.

“That texting is a terrible thing, but it’s here, and we’ve got to try to deal with it,” he said.

The people who work and volunteer with Mountain Mediation Services “deal with it” by presenting bullying in an upfront, honest way as they talk to students.

Recently, the group traveled to Bethel Middle School to talk with the students there. Role playing activities and discussion questions helped the students think about bullying from all angles, including talking about what they’ve experienced, how they can prevent it and even how they can avoid becoming a bully themselves.

Often students might not realize exactly what bullying is, said case coordinator Jen Trinque. For many, the class is enlightening because they learn that bullying is more than just physically harming someone. Bullying can be physical or emotional and can have devastating consequences when someone is pushed too far.

“I want the kids to understand the consequences, especially if they continue (to bully) into adulthood,” she said, adding that one of her goals is to explain the potential cost of cyberbullying.

She tries to get across to students that putting negative things about someone on the Internet or bullying through texting is not only wrong, but it is also a quick way to get into trouble.

“Once it’s on the Internet, it’s out there forever,” she warned one class.

Although some of the discussions are about how to recognize and handle bullying, Scroggs isn’t afraid to talk about tough issues, such as a recent case in which a teenager committed suicide after continually being bullied and harassed.

“Some of these cases can lead to tragedy,” he told the students.

“We’re not asking you to be best friends with each other,” added Trinque, “but you don’t have to pick on each other.”

While the classes might not eliminate bullying in schools, Betty McRae, lead trainer and a case coordinator with Mountain Mediation, said they do help.

“You can tell from the kids’ expressions that they’re getting it,” she said. “We’ve gotten feedback from the schools that it has helped.”

At Bethel Middle School, the results of the class — if not necessarily dramatic — have been positive overall.

The school’s counselor Rosemary Houston said after last year’s anti-bullying class, she saw the effects first hand when several students came to her to resolve a problem they’d been having.

“Two girls came to me separately and said, ‘I didn’t realize what I was doing was bullying, and I feel really bad about it. Can I apologize to my friend?’” she said. “I was so impressed. This is the reason we have Mountain Mediation here because it does sink in.”

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Victim Offender Mediation

Victim-Offender Mediation

What is Victim-Offender Mediation (VOM)?

Victim-Offender mediation is a type of mediation where it is determined prior to mediation that one party is clearly the victim, an innocent person against whom some wrong has been committed.  In such cases, the offender, or guilty party, has also been identified and has admitted to her wrong doing.  Unlike most mediation where some type of disagreement is generally involved, Victim-Offender Mediation (VOM) involves an opportunity for the offender to learn how his mistakes have affected the victim and work to find a solution to help correct the past.

How is VOM different from other common types of Mediation?

Mediation can include many types of conflicts: road disputes between neighbors, long-lasting disagreements between grown siblings or truancy cases at local schools. Any situation where two individuals are having a conflict they are unable to resolve on their own can generally be mediated, as long as both parties are willing to give it a try and each party feels free to speak and is willing to negotiate an agreement.

In most mediations the parties come with differing opinions about which person is at fault and how the issue should be resolved.  Generally each party feels he is justified in taking the stance he is taking.  Mediators are neutral and help the parties voice their concerns in a respectful manner, leading to an agreeable solution for all.  What makes VOM different is that it is decided ahead of the mediation process that one party is clearly the victim and the other the offender. The mediation process begins with this assumption as part of the dialogue.

Can VOM be used with youth?

Juvenile VOM is common and allows the offender to gain a better understanding of the consequences of her actions.  The process teaches problem-solving and decision making skills for situations in the future.  Many VOMs involve restitution, or a type of payment owed for damages, that the offender agrees would be fair to pay, to help compensate the victim.  In some cases this may be fairly straightforward; the youth that damaged the victim’s garden fence may end up repairing and painting it to restore it to its former state.  Solutions may be less direct, however.  In some cases, the victim and offender may decide that the damages done in the past would be better “repaired” through a learning experience or some other form of community service or volunteer project.  Perhaps the youth that was once in trouble decides instead that he would like to become a big brother at his local high school and help a younger child not make the same mistakes he has made.

How can this type of mediation help the victim?

In Restorative Justice, the field of thought and practice from which VOM originates, the emphasis is on learning from the past and moving into the future with new hope and closure.  For the victim this form of mediation can be helpful.

Victims often attend court and stand before a judge to bring charges or to be a witness to the actions of the offender.  Within the justice system there is an adversarial relationship encouraged where one party is trying to prove that the other is guilty and needs punishment.  Often, the victim does not get to actually learn or understand why the offender chose to act in the manner he did.  It is a system that keeps the two parties separated and responding to questions within the confines of the justice system.  Neither side is given ample time to thoughtfully consider and share the choices made in the incident and consider the ways those choices hurt the victim.??

This is the role of Victim-Offender Mediation.  In this setting both parties are given time to listen to one another and hear how the choices of one party affected the life of another.  Using VOM with youth, many programs work with the offender prior to mediation, helping her think through her actions and brainstorm possible consequences those actions may have had on the other party.  This process helps build awareness before the official mediation process begins, and helps make the mediation session more productive.  It helps the offender give some important questions some thought: “how did my actions affect another?”, “why did I make this choice and what other alternatives could I chose in the future?” or “what are some ideas I have that could help show the other party that I am sorry for my actions and would like to take responsibility for my actions?”

VOM: Making National Headlines!

While many local mediation centers have been offering these and other types of mediation services for years, a similar technique for restorative justice is now making national headlines!  Newsweek Magazine recently featured a story about a circle process learned from the Maori people of New Zealand, where juvenile offenders listen to the affects their actions have had on those involved and work together toward a written agreement.  This technique is being used in several cities across the United States.  Below is a link to a website where a copy of the article by Lauren Abramson in the September 19, 2011 edition of Newsweek can be found:

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Winners Announced!

Thank you to everyone who submitted their email addresses to be added to our e-newsletter list and take part in the drawing today.

Here are the winners and their corresponding prize:

  • Earl Black – Joey’s Pancake House
  • Susan Atlas – Blue Ridge Books and News
  • Barbara Thomas – Nick and Nate’s
  • Lynn Myers – Jack the Dipper
  • Juanita Dixon – Panacea Coffee House

A big thank you to all of the local businesses who provided prizes and supported Mountain Mediation for this giveaway!

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Reminder – Newsletter Sign Up and Drawing

We’re extending our drawing by two weeks until December 15th. You still have time to get entered to win a great prize like:

  • A gift certificate to Nick and Nates, Panacea, Joey’s Pancake House, and more!
  • Bag of brand new books from Blue Ridge Books and Music
  • More!
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Upcoming School Trainings

Each year Mountain Mediation holds a spring-time and fall training at Bethel and Waynesville Middle Schools on the subjects of Communication Skills and Anti-Bullying.

With trainings fast approaching, here are some links to articles about anti-bullying and what you can do if your child is being bullied at school.

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