Monday, May 17, 2010

Finding solutions

Guest blog by Rory Stauber

I serve as the community liaison for Bluffton’s community mediation program. A few years ago, Bluffton began offering 20-hour mediation training to interested individuals. We now provide mediation services to community organizations, juvenile courts and on-campus and have seen some dramatic results.

I recall a truancy mediation in which a middle-school boy had missed virtually the entire semester. The parents were not much help. The authorities were ready to send him to juvenile lock up.

During mediation with family members and his teacher, we traced the problem to a broken bicycle preventing him from making the distant bus stop on time. One family member volunteered to buy a replacement part; another said he could install the part; an aunt agreed to donate a lock for the bike; the teacher offered incentives for the student to attend class. The boy did not miss another day the rest of the semester. Hey, Mediation Works!

In fact, Mediation Works! is the name we have given to the public education component of our program. If you are the parents of more than one child, or you grew up with one or more siblings, you have already participated in mediation. What parent hasn’t mediated a dispute between siblings that begins with something like, “It isn’t fair that Sally gets to…..”?

We practice a type of mediation called “restorative” which is concerned with the needs and responsibilities of both victims and offenders, seeks to put right wrongs, and as much as is possible, to restore relationships.

Juvenile courts in Putnam and Allen counties are referring cases to our community mediation program, and we conduct mediations on campus and in the community including church and neighborhood disputes.

The community mediation program has conducted workshops and training for organizations including Lima Memorial Hospital, Lima Metropolitan Housing Agency and the Institute for Learning in Retirement at Bluffton University. If you are part of an organization that may be interested in a workshop in conflict and communication skills, let me know!

We lead low- and no-cost workshops for all kinds of groups, businesses and agencies considering the possibility of mediation. We also offer 20-hour mediation training for students, staff and community members.

For more information on trainings and workshops visit or contact me at

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