Mediation Clinic Research Internships 2015
From May to July 2015 two third year law programme students undertook research internships, sponsored by the University Research and Enterprise Development group and the School of Law, Criminal Justice and Computing.
Hasan Sadik worked on a project to analyse the ‘Attitudes of Regional Solicitors towards Mediation and its Use in Kent’ supervised by Ben Waters, building on research conducted the previous year in Canterbury. Lisa Martin worked on a project to analyse the ‘Use of Restorative Justice and Peer Mediation within Local Primary Schools’ supervised by Dr Kasim Sheikh.
- Mediation is a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) whereby people can resolve disputes themselves, with the assistance of impartial third party mediators, working alongside both participants.
- Restorative justice in schools aims to improve situations after some type of behaviour has adversely affected people. It is about asking the right questions, for instance; what happened? Who has been affected and how? How can we put right the harm? What have we all learnt so as to make different choices next time? This can be compared to the traditional approach which seeks to implement blame and punishment appropriate to the events that took place.
- Peer mediation programmes train pupils as impartial third parties to intervene and assist other students in the management and resolution of interpersonal disputes during break and lunch times.
Attitudes of Regional Solicitors towards Mediation and its Use in Kent
Hasan contacted 60 law firms in Kent and conducted 15 semi-structured interviews, via telephone and face-to-face. His findings included:
- Respondents had a good understanding of the mediation process.
- The majority believed mediation has an increased emphasis.
- Greater value was placed on non-traditional skills in mediators than the earlier study.
- Good understanding of the positives of mediation, both practical and interpersonal.
- Solicitors would recommend mediation for an independent perspective, to save time or cost and to resolve stalemate positions.
- Disadvantages focused on problems with the mediator or the disputants themselves.
- Variation of mediator style created problems in perceptions of mediation.
- Commercial respondents were more likely to perceive mediation as generating increased costs.
- Domestic abuse was viewed by the majority of solicitors as a pointer to avoid mediation or a reason that mediations failed.
Use of Restorative Justice and Peer Mediation within Local Primary Schools
Lisa contacted 30 local primary schools, in Canterbury, Deal and Ramsgate, and conducted 6 face-to-face semi structured interviews. Her findings included:
Benefits for pupils were identified as:
- Encourages them to take responsibility for their own actions.
- Enables pupils to actively display and consolidate valuable life skills.
- They feel listened to and valued throughout the process.
- Build and preserves relationships between pupils and peers.
Benefits for staff were identified as:
- Creates a harmonious and focused classroom environment.
- Reduces time spent dealing with re-occurring conflicts.
- Promotes healthy relationships between pupils and staff.
- Positive impacts on attainment and emotional intelligence.
The introduction of peer mediation and restorative justice schemes in the UK has numerous prospective benefits. The increase of attendance, social cohesion and understanding of behaviour are potential advantages if the schemes are embedded in the school successfully. There is a clear focus on empowering the children and developing their behavioural awareness. As a result conflicts can be prevented. Subsequently, a greater harmonious, social and positive school environment is created as issues are dealt with immediately.
'The internship was an interesting and educational experience. I was able to work independently, as well as being supported within a team, to conduct a research project and produce a final report. I enhanced many skills during this opportunity as I was given a lot of responsibility in contacting participants, organising data collection and generating background research. I would recommend this opportunity to anyone who has good time management skills, enjoys networking and has a passion for research.'
The final research posters