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Short-Term Public Attention Won’t Prevent a Recurrence of the Santee School Shooting.


Contact: Michael T. Elliott 
Los Angeles County Bar Association 
Deborah Thomas
Dispute Resolution Services

DRS Volunteers Aren’t Just Talking -- They’re Taking Action!

The Los Angeles County Bar Association addresses the need for proven solutions through Dispute Resoution Services Peer Mediation Program

Los Angeles, March 12, 2001 – The recent tragic Santee school shooting dramatically underscores the urgent need for expansion of existing, proven early conflict resolution intervention. Dispute Resolution Services and its staff, adult and student volunteer mediators, participating school districts, school administrators, parents and teachers aren’t just talking about the problem — they are taking action. And through their action, they are leading the way toward early identification of problems and steps to prevent their escalation.

The DRS School Peer Mediation Program provides, among other things, a highly effective mechanism for students to deal with feelings of alienation, isolation and exclusion, and the resulting hurt, anger and retaliation that are at the core of most of the disputes that are resolved by the program. The program operates in 13 schools in Los Angeles County, serving a racially, ethnically and socio-economically diverse student population.

Notably, in addition to helping students specifically with conflicts (and their schools and society generally), the program helps student mediators learn life skills that help eliminate bias and promote empathy and problem solving, which benefit them in future school, work and personal relationships.

John Adams Middle School in Santa Monica is one school where the program works. As Principal Jerry Kantor has remarked, "It is noteworthy that this program has virtually eliminated physical fighting; the children are learning better ways to handle disagreements. Some student mediators are the very youngsters who previously would have jumped at the chance to get into a physical confrontation."

"News coverage of school shootings can serve the public interest if these tragedies spur serious and sustained proactive efforts to peacefully resolve conflict in our schools," said DRS President Richard C. Davidoff. 

Dispute Resolution Services is a nonprofit, apolitical alternative dispute resolution pioneer, founded 22 years ago by the Los Angeles County Bar Association. The Student Peer Mediation Program is one of the many community services and training programs that DRS offers.

DRS staff, officers and volunteers are available to assist other communities in expanding the Student Peer Mediation Program and other alternative dispute resolution programs in their schools and communities through consulting and demonstration.

The Los Angeles County Bar Association is the largest local voluntary bar association in the nation with a membership of more than 23,000 attorneys. LACBA is extensively engaged in advancing the administration of justice, promoting many public service projects, and meeting the professional needs of the legal community. For more information on LACBA, visit www.lacba.org.