in english

Monitoring 2015 —>>>


In english + monitoring 2013 —>>>




Anton Konovalov

Until recently, the Russian schools have featured “vertical” relations between school principals and teachers, as well as teachers and students. In Russian schools, the widely-spread administrative response to conflicts and offences would be calling parents to school. In Russian schools, there are no efficient methods of handling offences (thefts, fights) committed by students, therefore schools tend to either conceal them or refer cases to police authorities.
Having all the above in mind, we have made the following decision:
1. School reconciliation services shall use the restorative justice models allowing to handle offences, among other tasks.
2. School reconciliation service shall be designed as a separate unit inside the school, having its own office, mediator, charter, an adult supervisor, etc.
3. School reconciliation service shall also rely on senior students who will carry out a mediation procedure without adults being involved (in cases where children do not trust adults).
4. We shall develop restorative mediation based on principles of restorative justice allowing to handle school conflicts of non-criminal nature.

In Russia, the first school reconciliation services were founded by Public Center “ Judicial and Legal Reform” 12 years ago. Our objective was to demonstrate the feasibility of reconciliation programmes in our country (including the programmes conducted by students themselves). The first resolution of conflict between a teacher and a student took place on 16 December 2002 at Moscow school #464 (with students acting as mediators), soon this case was followed by others. Initial results were discussed at the First conference of school mediation services which was held in 2002.
Years 2002 and 2003 saw school reconciliation services establish themselves within the school structure, along with development of their models. School mediators gained their first experience by handling school ‘showdowns’ (this experience was analysed in several articles). Soon, the Second conference of school reconciliation services was held in Nizhny Novgorod.
In 2004, in Perm Region there was launched a project on integration of school reconciliation services into city crime prevention system. Two years later, school reconciliation services obtained support of Perm Regional Administration and as a result, new similar services were established in most of the Perm schools.
In 2005, the Volgograd UNESCO club “Child’s Dignity” served a basis for network of school reconciliation services which initiated cooperation with local mediators’ community and other experts.
In 2006, the Third conference of school reconciliation services was held in Moscow. In smaller towns, mediation services are usually closely cooperating with courts and Commissions for Juvenile Affairs.
In 2007, at Moscow Psychological and Pedagogical University there was introduced a course on restorative juvenile justice, including a study unit dedicated to school mediation services.
In 2008, a project on school reconciliation services (school mediation) was carried out jointly with partners from neighboring countries, such as Ukraine (Concord and Reconciliation Centre) and Poland (Yanina Valyuk of Polish Mediation Centre). In Moscow, the Fourth Conference of Restorative Practices was held on the basis of Federal Institute for Education Development.
In 2009, there was created a Russian Association of Restorative Mediation who developed mediation standards. Regional associations of mediators were founded in Moscow and 4 more Russia’s regions. The Fifth Conference on restorative practices was held. Also, a monitoring process of Russian restorative practices was initiated, and its outcome was published in “Restorative Justice Herald” established by Center for Judicial Reform.
In 2010, mediators associations were founded in three more Russian regions. Reconciliation traditions of various ethnic groups in Russia were discussed, namely those of Chechnya, Dagestan, Ingushetia, and other Russia’s regions. The collection of monitoring data was initiated.
In 2011, the mass spread of mediation services caused discussion about preservation of mediation standards, along with the issue of necessity to provide support to school centres by territorial reconciliation services and Commissions for Juvenile Affairs.
In 2012, in Moscow there was adopted a Decree on Foundation of Medication Services in all city schools by year 2013. Also, courses of qualification improvement were opened.
In 2013 reconciliation services becomes greater. Established guidelines for creating reconciliation services.

Национальная стратегия действий в интересах детей +

Main lines of development in the 2013-2014 year:
1. Developing the model of “school reconciliation service” as means of school mediation tailored to Russia’s conditions.
2. With further spread of school reconciliation services, developing the model of their support on behalf of territorial mediation centres and mediator’s associations.
3. Developing the concept of ‘School Mediation Service’ as education and upbringing technology based on concept of ‘restorative culture’.
4. Distinction of mediation in restorative practices, the implementation of restorative practices in a «horizontal» conflicts/
5. Interaction of restorative practices and the educational process
6. Creating the sustainability of School Reconciliation Services.

Currently, apart from Russian Association of Restorative Mediation, the following organizations are operating in Russia’s regions: Association of mediators and curators for mediation services in Moscow, Volgograd regional branch of Russian Association of Restorative Mediation Association of mediators of Perm Region, Regional Association of mediators in Novosibirsk, Association of Juvenile Mediation Services of Samara Region, Tyumen Regional Association of Restorative Justice, Association of mediators and curators for reconciliation services in Chuvashia, Association of mediators in Kirov Region, Volgograd Regional Association of restorative mediation, Krasnoyarsk professional community of juvenile specialists, Tatarstan Association of mediators and other…

Peculiarities of School Restorative Mediation
• School environment requires educational efficacy and system of relapse prevention. Sometimes, improvements in children’s minds are more important than mere resolution of a conflict.
• Maintaining and enhancing personal relationships are of great importance, because both offender and victim know each other well and will continue sharing the same school area after the conflict is resolved.
• If a conflict involves both offender and victim (in case of fight, theft, extortion, property damage), the issue of damage reparation by the offender shall be discussed.
• As a rule, public opinion in the class defines the further development of conflict, heated by considerations of “who is right” and “who is wrong”. If mediator’s work is limited only to conflicting parties, no result will be obtained: if the final decision is not supported by teachers and children, conflicting teenagers will inevitably revert to previous relation patterns.
• Presumably, before meeting a mediator, a teenager has already been contacted by director and other school experts (psychologist, social pedagogue), so offender’s behaviour may bear the “marks” of these contacts, manifested in his defense methods, negative expectations, fears, prejudice, etc)

School reconciliation services see their priority in restoring and enhancing the cultural tradition of mutual understanding. This tradition may be called a “culture of restorative relationships”

Reconciliation service, jointly with a school principal and Association of Restorative Mediation initiates the following three activities:
1. Developing new types of response to conflicts, offences and discipline violations by using restorative programmes (mediation, community circles, school conferences, family conferences)
2. Changing the customary prejudice that pedagogues, administration, schoolchildren and parents may have towards conflict resolution, by presenting them values and culture of mutual understanding. This approach will help to reduce administrative measures taken by adults, and minimize forceful resolution of conflicts practiced among children.
3. The already existing forms of upbringing and education being enhanced and enforced by restorative practices:

A mediation service usually consists of one or two curators (it may be a vice-principal on academic work and discipline, a social pedagogue, or more rarely, a school psychologist or a teacher) and a dozen of senior students. They all are trained for mediators, including curators (in specific cases where children are not competent because of their age).
As a rule, first signals about conflicts and petty criminal situations (such as thefts, fights, property damage) come to school mediation service from school administration and pedagogues; then the Service is approached by students and parents. Working in couples, mediators are holding preliminary meetings with conflicting parties (separately) and finally, convene reconciliation meetings.
The average start-up period for mediation service takes a year, including the time when it starts first mediation activities.
The basic element in supporting the school reconciliation services would be a liaison between a district reconciliation service (based on social and psychological centres) conducting restorative programmes, other Moscow associations of curators for reconciliation services and mediators, Commission for Juvenile Affairs (dealing with minor delinquents) and schools willing to establish a Service.
District (county, territorial) services are handling complicated cases coming from schools, Commissions for Juvenile Affairs, police authorities and population of a district. In return, the mentioned entities are coordinating district conciliation services by supporting and educating mediators and curators for school mediation services, cooperating with mass-media, etc.
Commissions of Juvenile Affairs acting as coordinating entity, may initiate a setup of district reconciliation service taking already existing bodies as their basis (for example, a State Centre for Education System).
Also, Commissions for Juvenile Affairs may recommend that schools establish their reconciliation services, by offering them favourable conditions and using their positive experience obtained in the process of conflict resolution.