OJJDP Releases New Crime Prevention Information
By Meghan Fay, Assistant Editor

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) released three new bulletins in March that outline ways youth can become involved in crime prevention by using communication skills. Want to Resolve a Dispute? Try Mediation, Making the Most of Your Presentation, and Working With the Media, can provide guidance for youth who want to improve their ability to educate the community about crime prevention through conflict resolution, public speaking and media relations. 

“Young people are helping to make our communities safer through innovative crime prevention efforts,” said OJJDP Acting Administrator John J. Wilson in a written release. “By sharing what they have learned through this bulletin series they are opening up new opportunities for other youth who what to get involved in community crime prevention.”

The bulletins are part of OJJDP’s Youth in Action (YIA) series produced for youth ages 12-19 by OJJDP’s National Youth Network, a group of young people and national youth organizations working to prevent crime and victimization and to make a difference in their communities.

Try Mediation

Want to Resolve a Dispute? Try Mediation describes how trained mediators can help two or more people resolve a conflict or a disagreement, no matter how simple or complex. The bulletin stresses the importance of not taking sides while mediating, but assisting disputants in finding a peaceful way to resolve their conflict. Educators are turning to mediation as a way to reduce violence in school. The bulletin gives examples of two successful programs – the New Mexico Center for Dispute Resolution Per Mediation in Schools Program and the Mediation Center in Asheville, North Carolina. 

According to the report, peer mediation programs helped students re-channel their anger in North Carolina schools, which eliminated 742 days of in-school suspensions and 1,220 days of out-of-school suspensions. The program in New Mexico schools trains both staff and students in peer mediation with a curriculum centered on conflict resolution. The program also provides a staff orientation to help train teachers to exhibit the communication skills they are trying to instill in the students.

The bulletin recommends the following six steps to create a peer mediation program:

  • Identify the types of conflict the mediation program will address
  • Decide when mediation will be used
  • Recruit potential mediators
  • Train mediators
  • Identify the people who need help settling their conflicts
  • Select a neutral location for mediation hearings
Present Your Message Effectively

Although there is a need to address conflicts in schools to prevent them from escalating into violence, there is also a need to give students adequate tools to present their message of non-violence to their fellow peers and the community-at-large. Making the Most of Your Presentations is geared towards helping youth crystallize their violence prevention messages. 

The bulletin discusses how to plan presentations, ways to make presentations effective, the challenges and rewards of making presentations and ways in which they can be evaluated. Presentations include speeches, panel discussions, debates, skits, performances, book readings and dances.

According to the bulletin, when planning a presentation it is important to consider:

  • Why you are making the presentation?
  • What points you wish to communicate to the audience?
  • Who is your audience?
  • What is the time limit for the presentation?
  • Will you need supplemental materials?
  • What will you do to reinforce your message?
  • What outcomes do you want to see?
  • What special needs, concerns or situations are relevant?
Use the Media as a Tool

Working with the Media describes the organizations that are considered the media and the importance of the media’s role in publicizing messages that prevent or reduce crime. The five critical planning steps: develop a process, reach out to a variety of media organizations, start getting the word out, keep media contacts lined up and develop allies, are highlighted to help youth get started in working with the media and to develop productive partnerships to ensure that their crime prevention messages are aired.

Copies of the bulletins are available to young people through the Justice Department’s KidsPage at www.doj.gov/kidspage.

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