Conflict Resolution

We provide young people with strategies to peacefully and effectively address and resolve conflicts with friends, family, peers and others.

Defining Terms

  • Conflict: a natural, fundamental, and pervasive part of life. It is what happens when things are opposed — when different interests, claims, preferences, beliefs, feelings, values, ideas, or truths collide. (Peter Coleman and Robert Ferguson)
  • Bullying: unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. (stopbullying.gov)
  • Cyberbullying: bullying that takes place over digital devices like cell phones, computers, and tablets. Cyberbullying can occur through SMS, Text, and apps, or online in social media, forums, or gaming where people can view, participate in, or share content. Cyberbullying includes sending, posting, or sharing negative, harmful, false, or mean content about someone else. It can include sharing personal or private information about someone else causing embarrassment or humiliation. (stopbullying.gov)
  • Microaggressions: brief, everyday exchanges that send denigrating messages to certain individuals because of their group membership. (Derald Wing Sue)
  • Conflict resolution: the process for resolving a conflict, usually using specific strategies.
  • Restorative practices (or restorative justice): a philosophy, not a curriculum, focusing on building positive relationships and providing opportunities for community members to take responsibility for their behavior while remaining connected to the community.  An intentional restorative approach fosters a compassionate, relationship-centered culture. (Conflict Center)

How Conflict Shows Up

  • One out of every five students report being bullied. The reasons for being bullied reported most often by students include physical appearance, race/ethnicity, gender, disability, religion, and sexual orientation. More than one third of bullying reports by adolescents are bias-based. (National Center for Educational Statistics)
  • Students with disabilities report greater rates of victimization than their peers without disabilities, and their victimization remains consistent over time. When reporting bullying, youth in special education were told “not to tattle” almost twice as often as youth not in special education. (Youth Voice Project)
  • 59% of U.S. teens have been bullied or harassed online, and a similar percentage says it’s a major problem for people their age. (Pew Research Center)
  • Research on microaggressions provides strong evidence that they lead to elevated levels of depression and trauma for people of color. (Center for Health Journalism)
  • Family conflict, family dynamics, and school problems are among the primary risk factors that lead teens to runaway, resulting in homelessness. (Congressional Research Service)

Local Actions to Engage in Conflict Resolution

  1. Start with yourself and your club or friend group. What conflicts or uncomfortable dynamics have played out, and how have they been addressed (or have they gone unaddressed)? Create a circle led by a trained facilitator, whether a peer mediator or a trusted teacher. Talk through the issues and work to reach an understanding that everyone feels good about. If your group can’t resolve conflict within itself, how are you going to work on conflict resolution in the wider school? The hardest work is always with ourselves.
  2. Work to become a trained facilitator to manage group discussions and conflict that may arise. YCD offers a five-part training series for students to receive a certificate in youth facilitation.
  3. Enact an anti-bullying campaign. There are many resources and options online; one to check out is the HEAR for High Schools program, which was created by experts at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The program is delivered by trained members of the National Guard at no cost for schools, with a special focus on cyberbullying. A second option to investigate is Kind Campaign, which focuses on girl-on-girl bullying. If these programs aren’t a good fit, do some research to find a program that matches your school’s need, or contact us for more guidance or advice. Make sure to pick a program that matches and addresses your community’s need and is culturally competent for your student body.
  4. Engage in a group project to learn about microaggresions in more detail, document examples in your community, and share the knowledge with others to push for change. Here is a useful tool on the different themes that come up with microaggresions, examples, and underlying messages. Move beyond identifying the problem by coming up with specific tips and strategies (through brainstorm and research) for students as well as teachers on how to handle or interrupt microaggresions when they occur, and then present your findings.
  5. Teachers, here’s a decent list of microaggresions that can be perpetrated in the classroom. Use it to keep yourself in check, and to guard against and call out microaggresions committed by colleagues.
  6. Does your school have a restorative justice program? If not, talk to deans, counselors and others about the approach and research that shows its effectiveness in reducing conflict in schools. Search for an experienced RJ practitioner (we can provide referrals) to guide your school through the process of implementing a new restorative justice program. Understand this process will require buy-in from all parties, and often requires several years to fully implement.

YCD Workshops on Conflict Resolution

Below are example workshops YCD has hosted in the past through our conferences for students and educators; contact us to request more information or connect with a presenter.

A World of Difference

Participants will explore their personal biases and how they affect the world around them. We will use interactive lessons from the Anti-Defamation League’s World of Difference curriculum to promote discussion as well as positive interaction among students.

Presented by student leaders from Durango High School

Are You as Open-Minded as You Think?

Join local youth advisers in an exploration of biases, acknowledging both positive and negative aspects of our bias. Small groups will unfold everyday examples of conscious and unconscious bias and stereotypes, and strategies to address them. Participants will engage in activities to learn how to support equity, inclusion and open-mindedness.

Presented by Amelia Paradise, Albuquerque, NM

Changing the Narrative: Unpacking Bias

This interactive workshop engages community members in a discussion about personal biases and how they impact perceptions and behaviors between law enforcement and community. The workshop allows participants to reflect on how biases show up in both their professional and personal lives. The workshop is intended to promote self-reflection, self-accountability and personal growth through dialogue and creation of action steps.

Presented by the Office of the Independent Monitor (OIM)’s Bridging the Gap: Kids & Cops and The Denver Teen Empowerment Program, Denver, CO

Finding Your Voice and Skills for Family Conflict Resolution

Everyone experiences conflict with family members—over who we are, what we believe, and so many other things. Sometimes that conflict grows until it harms or even ends those relationships. It doesn’t have to be that way. We will discuss conflicts that you are experiencing and effective ways to deal with them. We will use small-group discussion and practical tools to help each other address conflict in positive ways.

Presented by Danny Fisher, Columbia University, Denver, CO

Honest and Compassionate Dialogue with Self and Others

We rely on our dynamic personal history to inform our perception of the world, others, and ourselves. Experiences such as suffering, joy, gender, culture, religion, and so much more distinguish how we learned to be versus how we would rather be in our day-to-day lives and through our interactions with others. This workshop will provide strategies to help you become a more informed reader of physical signs in others and to become more aware of your own physical and psychological tendencies in order to interact authentically with others.

Presented by Dr. Danielle Wise, Denver, CO

My Ethics versus Your Values

This interactive workshop will challenge students to explore their ethics and values that have been formed throughout their lives. They will face ethical dilemmas and practice communication techniques when faced with different thinking. There will be laughter!

Presented by Effley Brooks, University of Denver, Denver, CO

Navigating Diversity Backlash

Efforts to dismantle inequities can sometimes be misinterpreted for exclusion. This workshop is an interactive conversation about why there is resistance to equity, diversity, and inclusion efforts and how to work through the backlash. Learners will engage in dialogue and activities (role-play is one) to come away with strategies on how to address diversity backlash when they are faced with resistance to their work in social and racial justice.

Presented by Giovianna Burrell, City of Albuquerque Office of Equity & Inclusion, Albuquerque, NM

Conflict Resolution Leaders Who Inspire Us

Here’s a list of folx who are leading the conversation on conflict resolution today, whether on the local or national level. They inspire and inform our work. Follow them on social media, or seek out opportunities to hear them speak to dig deeper on these issues.

Who inspires your work on conflict resolution? Share your points of inspiration with us on Twitter:

.@ycdiversity My work on conflict resolution is inspired by

Conflict Resolution Books for Students

Here is a list of recommended books for students and teens that explore and address conflict resolution. You can find free e-books or your local library using OverDrive.com.

Conflict Resolution Books for Educators and Parents

And this list is for educators and parents looking for guidance on conflict resolution, whether within the classroom or school system or within the family.

Movies Addressing Conflict Resolution

Below are movies that address conflict resolution in meaningful and compelling ways.

Podcasts on Conflict Resolution

Here is a list of recommended podcasts you can download and follow to explore conflict resolution in more detail.

Organizations Advancing Conflict Resolution

YCD partners with numerous organizations to offer education and trainings for students on conflict resolution. Below are some of these groups; we encourage you to look into what services, resources and information they can offer for a deeper exploration of these issues.

Jump to: Arizona | Colorado

PeaceJam creates young leaders committed to positive change in themselves, their communities, and the world through the inspiration of Nobel Peace Laureates who pass on the spirit, skills, and wisdom they embody.  In general, PeaceJam has a global focus compared to some of the more local organizations listed above.

Culture of Peace Alliance operates as a nonprofit umbrella for groups working to build peace, empower youth, and create a cultural shift towards compassion, nonviolence, civility, and sustainability in Tucson and beyond. The group sponsors the annual Youth and Peace Conference.

Building Bridges creates a safe space for young people to meet face-to-face with those they have been taught to fear. Together, they develop personal connections based on empathy and respect and the confidence to transform divisive attitudes in their communities.  The organization offers summer intensive programs as well as opportunities for trainings and events during the school year.

The Conflict Center‘s programs give young people opportunities and a platform for their voices to be heard and the skills to turn conflict into opportunity. They believe in equipping all with the skills to navigate conflict productively whether in classrooms or interpersonally, using the principles of restorative practices. Through their Social Norming program, young people drive the effort of creating campaigns around healthy relationship norms and via Hot Spot Mapping take part in presenting data to school staff around “hot” and “cool” safety areas in and around their schools.

Luv Mrk (love mark) empowers individuals to live by their heart and leave their imprint with Luv. They provide transformative workshops and kindness campaigns that heighten awareness on what we can intentionally do to treat ourselves and others with respect, kindness, peace and Luv.

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