9               CELEBRATING PEER MEDIATION







        16                      March 3, 1997








         1                  P R O C E E D I N G S

         2               ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  Good orning.

         3     I just appreciate your being here so very uch

         4     today.  I' very, very excited about this

         5     orning's program and about the tremendous

         6     support for peer ediation and dispute

         7     resolution that I've had a chance to see

         8     firsthand in the D.C. Public School Syste and

         9     as truly evidenced by your willingness to join

        10     us here today.

        11               General Becton and I have invited you

        12     to be with us today to celebrate soe of the

        13     ost powerful, effective, and inspiring tools

        14     we've seen for fighting violence in our

        15     schools, on our streets, in our comunities,

        16     and even in our hoes.

        17               I have learned firsthand fro young

        18     people about the iportance of these programs.

        19               And these young people are the best

        20     instructors in the world.  They're so excited.

        21     They are so clear in what they are trying to

        22     do.


         1               I've been lucky enough to visit 11

         2     schools here in D.C. -- high schools, iddle

         3     schools, and eleentary schools -- that have

         4     thriving dispute resolution progras.  And I

         5     hope to have the opportunity to visit ore in

         6     the coing months.

         7               These students and the faculty that

         8     have helped the have shown me how effective

         9     peer ediation and other conflict resolutions

        10     can be in resolving the probles and the

        11     arguents that naturally arise among young

        12     people.  But they are also doing so uch more.

        13               Young people who learn how to resolve

        14     conflicts cooperatively learn that they can

        15     solve probles themselves, without having to go

        16     to the principal or to the teacher.  They learn

        17     that they have soe control over the problems

        18     in their lives -- not just in their school, but

        19     in their neighbor and at their hoe.

        20               They learn and practice valuable

        21     skills that serve the well for the rest of

        22     their lives.  And they learn how to resolve


         1     conflict through listening, through talking,

         2     through understanding, through proble-solving,

         3     and not with knives and guns and fists.

         4               I have been told, during y visits to

         5     schools here in D.C., that schools with peer

         6     ediation programs have seen a reduction in the

         7     nuber of fights.  Some have realized

         8     reductions in suspensions and other

         9     disciplinary actions.

        10               "What happens if they won't go to

        11     dispute resolution?" you'll ask a young

        12     student.

        13               "Well, they have to go the principal,

        14     and they ay get suspended."

        15               These results are siilar to those

        16     that I have witnessed in y travels to other

        17     parts of the country with active peer ediation

        18     initiatives in the schools.

        19               These results are extreely

        20     encouraging and very, very exciting -- through

        21     probably not surprising to those of you here

        22     today, and particularly to the young people who


         1     know the power of dispute resolution.

         2               Many of you ay already have had some

         3     experience with peer ediation.  But I imagine

         4     that there are soe here who know a little bit

         5     about peer ediation and dispute resolution but

         6     would like to learn a lot ore.

         7               Today's progra promises to be a

         8     wonderful opportunity to see these young people

         9     in action and to have soe of your specific

        10     questions answered.

        11               General Becton, principals,

        12     counselors, teachers, comunity and business

        13     leaders, and others who have worked with these

        14     young people, I want to thank you for your very

        15     critical support.

        16               It is such a thrill to be talking

        17     with a iddle school class and suddenly here

        18     coes General Becton, the superintendent.  And

        19     he is known; he has been there before, people

        20     understanding.  He's right there at the seen.

        21               And you just have a sense, as the

        22     students look up at hi, as the principal and


         1     the teachers sile, yes, we really can make a

         2     difference with the people in the D.C. Public

         3     School Syste.

         4               It has been wonderful for e to see

         5     teachers who are so terribly dedicated, who

         6     care so very uch, who are just doing their

         7     very best to give our young people a strong and

         8     positive future; and counselors who ake a

         9     difference; and people with the dispute

        10     resolution and the dispute settleent program

        11     that have done so uch -- it is just so

        12     exciting -- and to the principals who try so

        13     hard with such difficult circustances.

        14               All I can tell you, fro my

        15     experience in the D.C. Public School Syste, is

        16     that, General, you've got great and wonderful

        17     resources.

        18               And with your leadership, I think

        19     it's going to ake such a difference, and I

        20     really appreciate your being here today.

        21               We would not be honoring all these

        22     young people here in this great hall of the


         1     Departent of Justice if it were not for the

         2     efforts of so any people in this room.

         3               There are any healthy, happy young

         4     people in our Nation's capital who ight not be

         5     alive and well today without conflict

         6     resolution initiatives that you have helped to

         7     create.

         8               I can think of no greater

         9     achieveent, no greater goal than saving our

        10     young people fro harm.

        11               I hope each of you will continue and

        12     expand your efforts.

        13               Governent officials, business

        14     leaders, educators, and young people all bring

        15     unique contributions to our overall fight

        16     against violence.  And we ust continue to work

        17     together in this challenge.

        18               But it's not just a fight against

        19     violence.  It is a fight to give our young

        20     people a sense that they can participate in

        21     their destiny, that they can work together to

        22     solve probles to make life better.


         1               And as I have gone to these schools,

         2     I also ask, "If you were the Attorney General

         3     of the United States, what would you do to give

         4     you a better future?"  And they have such

         5     wonderful ideas.

         6               I a so proud of the young people

         7     that I have had a chance to visit and talk

         8     with.

         9               I a proud to report, too, that

        10     President Clinton and the Departent of Justice

        11     want to do everything we can in supporting

        12     dispute resolution and peer ediation.

        13               Many states have chosen to use their

        14     Departent of Justice Formula Funds to support

        15     dispute resolution and peer ediation programs

        16     in their schools.

        17               And the Illinois Institute for

        18     Dispute Resolution, thanks to a $200,000

        19     Justice grant, has been providing training and

        20     technical assistance to local jurisdictions to

        21     help establish conflict resolution progras in

        22     schools.


         1               I would like, also, to announce today

         2     that the Departent of Justice, in connection

         3     with the Illinois Institute for Dispute

         4     Resolution, will be available to work alongside

         5     the organizations that already provide

         6     technical assistance to schools here in D.C.

         7               This should aid these wonderful

         8     existing organizations in helping schools that

         9     are interested in starting a dispute

        10     resolution, peer ediation program but are in

        11     need of assistance.

        12               These organizations do such an

        13     outstanding job.  And we are hopeful that in

        14     the future there will be such a deand for

        15     these services that we will all join together

        16     in this effort.

        17               The President's new Anti-Gang and

        18     Youth Violence Legislation, sent to Congress

        19     just week, would authorize $75 illion to fund

        20     initiatives such as violence intervention

        21     progras, after-school and summer activities,

        22     and dispute resolution progras.


         1               While we understand that at the

         2     federal level our direct involveent is

         3     liited, the President and I are committed to

         4     provided comunities with the tools and

         5     resources that comunities need to get the job

         6     done.

         7               I' also very excited about President

         8     Clinton's comitment to working with the

         9     District of Colubia to improve this city and

        10     to give our young people a strong and healthy

        11     future.

        12               And I a proud to say that the

        13     Justice Departent is full-square behind these

        14     efforts.

        15               I'd like to congratulate, though, and

        16     thank the ost important group of all that's

        17     here today, the young people.

        18               Young people are so perfectly

        19     wonderful.  They want to contribute.  They want

        20     to ake a difference.  They want to help other

        21     people.  And they can do so uch if they are

        22     given only half a chance.


         1               We need to work together to give the

         2     young people of this District, the young people

         3     of Aerica, the chance to grow and to

         4     contribute and to help others, and to lead a

         5     strong and positive life.

         6               And for the young people here today

         7     who have already done just that, thank you for

         8     joining us.  You are our future, and I feel so

         9     confident when I have the chance to talk with

        10     young people like you.

        11               General Becton, I think it's your

        12     tie now to say a few words.

        13               And thank you, again, for being here.

        14                    (Rearks by General Becton)

        15               ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  I'll tell

        16     you, while they're oving it, I'm really not a

        17     general.

        18               And for the young people, I did a

        19     study.  And Justice Souter has done the sae

        20     study, because he was an attorney general once.

        21               It was the attorney who handled

        22     general atters for the crown.  That's the way


         1     the nae came about.

         2               We're going to have three skits this

         3     orning.  The first school to demonstrate a

         4     peer ediation scenario for us is Stevens

         5     Eleentary.  These students are going to show

         6     us how easily play can turn into conflict on

         7     the playground and will also deonstrate a

         8     ediated outcome.

         9               I had the opportunity to visit

        10     Stevens, and I think you will be as ipressed

        11     as I was.

        12                    (Skit perfored by Stevens

        13                    Eleentary School)

        14               ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  General

        15     Becton says he's going to use those young

        16     people in the School Board eeting.

        17               Thank you all so very uch.  The

        18     students of Stevens Eleentary, you are just

        19     wonderful exaples for us all.

        20               The second school with us today is

        21     Stuart-Hobson Middle School, another school

        22     that I have been lucky enough to visit.


         1               At the junior-high/iddle-school

         2     level there are any causes of conflict.  But

         3     one of the ost predominant involves rumors.

         4               These Stuart-Hobson students will

         5     show us what can happen when hurtful ruors

         6     spread out of control.  They will deonstrate

         7     the conflict side only and will not perfor a

         8     peer ediation.

         9                    (Skit perfored by Stuart Hobson

        10                    Middle School)

        11               ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  I think I

        12     could use the at the Department of Justice,

        13     General.

        14               Isn't it wonderful what young people

        15     can teach us in the clearest, ost human terms.

        16     And we suddenly start thinking of the ruors in

        17     the workplace that cause such confusion.  And

        18     fro these young people we learn so much.

        19               The final school deonstrating for us

        20     today is Wilson Senior High School.

        21               As you all know, violence is a very

        22     real and very serious proble at the high


         1     school level.  These students will show us what

         2     can happen when violence breaks out in the

         3     school, and they will also deonstrate a

         4     typical peer ediation.

         5                    (Skit by Wilson Senior High

         6                    School)

         7               ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  We are now

         8     going to have a panel that I think you will

         9     find very interesting.

        10                    (Beginning of panel

        11                    presentation)

        12               ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  May I just

        13     ake a point there?

        14               For adults who want to be trained, I

        15     have seen what the Center for Dispute

        16     Resolution can do, what you all can do.  It is

        17     one of the ost fascinating two or three hours

        18     of training that I have been to.  And it is so

        19     rewarding.  General Becton, this past sumer I

        20     saw D.C. public school teachers give of their

        21     own tie for two or three days, coming to

        22     learn, and they found it a fascinating process,


         1     too.

         2                    (Continuation of panel

         3                    presentation)

         4               STUDENT:  And y other question was

         5     addressed to Janet Reno.

         6               I would like to ask you, how would

         7     you feel if you had peer ediations in the

         8     police station?

         9               ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  Well,

        10     actually, I should let the officer answer that

        11     question.

        12               But let e tell you, you have seen

        13     what it can do in the schools.

        14               If we could get it in the comunity,

        15     if every police officer who served a particular

        16     comunity learned mediation skills as well, it

        17     could be such a wonderful tool for resolving

        18     disputes in the streets, and during the

        19     sumertime and in the hours when children were

        20     not in school.

        21               And what I have seen -- and you, sir,

        22     ay have better examples -- but I have seen


         1     comunity police officers in the community

         2     develop the respect of the young people, work

         3     to solve the probles, prevent the violence,

         4     prevent the fights that start the violence.

         5               And it is a wonderful tool for police

         6     officers, fro what I've seen.

         7               But you ight want to comment, sir.

         8                    (Continuation of panel

         9                    presentation)

        10               ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  Okay.  Can I

        11     ake just one suggestion?  General, why don't

        12     you and I talk to Chief Soulsby?

        13                    (Continuation of panel

        14                    presentation)

        15               STUDENT:  Do you approve of the

        16     having a Spanish/English tea at Lincoln

        17     Multicultural School?

        18               GENERAL BECTON:  Yes.

        19               STUDENT:  Janet Reno?

        20               ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  Yes, and let

        21     e tell you the reason why.

        22               My father cae to this country when


         1     he was 12 years old fro Denmark.  He spoke not

         2     one word of English.  And people, then, teased

         3     hi about his funny language and his funny

         4     clothes and his funny background.  He never

         5     forgot that.

         6               But it didn't take hi long to learn

         7     English.  And four years later, he was writing

         8     beautiful English as the editor of the high

         9     school newspaper.  But if people had been

        10     there, ediating and helping to communicate and

        11     to understand, it would have ade such a

        12     difference for hi.

        13               Comunication is the name of the

        14     gae, and we've got to learn how to communicate

        15     as the world's borders are shrinking.  We've

        16     got to learn how to comunicate in our schools,

        17     in our comunity, and around the world to

        18     achieve peace.

        19                    (Final portion of panel

        20                    presentation)

        21               ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  Thank you all

        22     for being here today.


         1               The idea for this progra came from

         2     students.  As I asked the what they would do

         3     if they were Attorney General, they said, "Have

         4     a progra where people can learn about

         5     ediation and about dispute resolution."

         6               And you can see what I've been

         7     hearing in the schools I've been to.  Young

         8     people have such wisdo.

         9               Think of what could happen if through

        10     conflict resolution we kept people out of the

        11     prisons and used the dollars to build the

        12     prisons that we use to build the prisons now to

        13     build better educational opportunities for our

        14     young people and spend ore for higher

        15     education.

        16               Two states in this country, Florida

        17     and California, at least spend ore money for

        18     prisons than they do for education.  With this

        19     progra, we can turn it around.  Because of

        20     these young people and their exaple, we can

        21     turn that around.

        22               And so, I would urge all the


         1     principals to, if you haven't already done so,

         2     initiate peer ediation and dispute resolution

         3     progras in your school.   If you've already

         4     done so, try to expand it and enhance it.

         5               It's so wonderful to see a progra

         6     that has been underway for four years.  The

         7     students know it, it's a tradition.  In others,

         8     it's just getting started, and there is an

         9     enthusias.  But it is a wonderful, wonderful

        10     tool, and it can ake such a difference.

        11               And General Becton and I can talk

        12     further with Chief Soulsby and see what we can

        13     do with comunity police officers -- such as

        14     you, sir -- and others to expand it in the

        15     comunity in the District of Columbia so that,

        16     indeed, we can give our children a future of

        17     peace.

        18               General.

        19                    (Rearks by General Becton)

        20                    (Whereupon, the PROCEEDINGS were

        21                    adjourned.)

        22                      *  *  *  *  *