Project PEACE

All schools, regardless of socioeconomic status, diversity and location, have been forced by outbreaks of school violence to confront how conflict is handled in our society. Schools have sought to find ways to deter violence and bring about peace in the hearts and minds of students.

Project PEACE is sponsored in Pennsylvania by Attorney General Tom Corbett and the Pennsylvania Bar Association. It works to reduce conflicts and violence in Pennsylvania elementary schools by teaching children how to discuss and mediate their disagreements peacefully.

The objective of Project PEACE is to neutralize minor conflicts before they escalate to explosive confrontations that could potentially lead to violent acts. Children become active participants in promoting positive behavior in their classrooms by taking on the role of mediator and using the mediation process. The Project PEACE training introduces participants to the peer mediation process and provides them with instruction to teach their students. Over the past six years, Project PEACE has brought peer mediation programming and conflict resolution education to more than 80 schools directly and another 120 indirectly.

While the program is offered annually to 12 elementary schools from across the state, the 2004-05 training was dedicated to Philadelphia schools due to the sad increase in deadly violence targeting school age children in the city. Philadelphia School District President and CEO Paul Vallas joined then-Attorney General Pappert and Pennsylvania Bar Association President Mike Reed to bring the program to more than 20 schools with plans to expand the program to every school in the district over the coming years.

Although mediation training and conflict resolution education alone are not magic formulas for stopping these violent acts, research on elementary peer mediation programs and conflict resolution education show that they can positively impact the school climate. These findings are supported by the experience of Project PEACE, both in Philadelphia and in other Project PEACE schools since the program’s beginning. The program is uniquely structured to bring such benefits to schools because of its partnerships. Parents, administrators, line educators and community members, represented by attorney partners, all are part of the Project PEACE effort.

Project PEACE is open to all elementary schools — public and private, rural and urban, and diverse in student populations — through a competitive application process. Some of the schools are from districts that already employ mediation programs at the middle and high school levels, while some have never been exposed to peer mediation.

During Project PEACE training, the selected schools’ teams — composed of one administrator, one educator, one guidance counselor or a second educator, one parent and one attorney — are introduced to the peer mediation process through hands-on learning activities. They receive instruction in such areas as adjudication vs. mediation, diffusing conflict situations and the skills of conflict resolution. At the end of the training, schools write their own mediation plans, which are implemented in their local schools. The schools select and train their student mediators, and the student mediators then begin helping fellow students resolve disputes peacefully.

The Project PEACE training model was developed by the Temple University Beasley School of Law’s LEAP Program. Project PEACE has been implemented in Indiana since 1994 under the auspices of that state’s bar association and Attorney General. Pennsylvania is the second state in the nation to offer this program.

For more information about Project PEACE, contact David Keller Trevaskis in the PBA Pro Bono Office at david.trevaskis@pabar.org or 1-800-932-0311, Ext. 2236.

Project PEACE 2004 Philadelphia Training
Project PEACE 2004 Training Conference
Project PEACE 2003 Training Conference
Project PEACE 2002 Training Conference
Project PEACE 2001 Training Conference
Project PEACE 2000 Training Conference

Student/Teacher Survey Information
Elementary School Students Project PEACE Survey
Elementary School Teachers Project PEACE Survey
Middle School Students Project PEACE Survey
Middle School Teachers Project PEACE Survey
Survey Results Analysis

Attention Potential Project PEACE Lawyers
On Oct. 27, 2004 the PBA joined with then-Attorney General Jerry Pappert and Philadelphia School District CEO Paul Vallas to bring Project PEACE (peer mediation program) to all Philadelphia K-8 schools. We now are recruiting lawyers to volunteer to work with the Philadelphia schools! The first volunteer lawyer training was held on Nov. 11. Additional trainings will be scheduled shortly. If you are interested in volunteering (and receiving free CLE) or would like more information about the program, click here.

For more information about Project PEACE, contact David Trevaskis the PBA Pro Bono Coordinator at david.trevaskis@pabar.org.