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Street mediation

• stops a young person when he or she does wrong or behaves in a disorderly manner. The goal is to encourage young people to understand their own blunders, take responsibility for them and correct them.

• is a form of youth work that can be used for tackling the so-called hidden crime committed by young people such as damages, petty theft and other minor offences as well as scuffles that would otherwise go unnoticed. The intervention shows that actions have consequences.

• is always voluntary for the young person.

• works on the principle that a violation can be solved by means other than monetary compensation. An appropriate way of compensation is agreed upon with the complainants, the mediators and the young person’s parents.

• differs from the usual method of mediation in criminal and civil cases involving young people in that the cases are dealt with quickly and the mediators are usually professionals from the education sector.

• reduces redundant efforts. For example, the police do not have to be called to the scene for petty thefts and a social worker can receive a child welfare report from the perspective of another trained professional.

• provides the possibility for cooperation with the parents of the young person.

• teaches friendship skills through group activities. Self-awareness is strengthened by performing work focusing on conflict resolution skills and the identification and expression of different emotions.

At its best, mediation is seen as a positive and encouraging experience by the young person.

 

Solutions instead of punishment

The goal of street mediation is not to punish young people, but rather to educate them and stop them if they are headed toward a downward spiral.

This form of youth work provides young people the opportunity to mediate quickly with the support of a professional. Solving the matter quickly is particularly important with young people. They have a different perception of time from adults and waiting for months for a decision is inappropriate even from a pedagogical perspective. At its best, a quick intervention prevents the young person from entering a life of crime.

Young people get an opportunity to take responsibility for their actions

In a street mediation meeting the young person meets the complainant in a safe environment in the presence of his or her parents and the mediators. Meeting the complainant is significant from an educational perspective. During the meeting, the consequences of their actions will be dealt with and the attendees will come to an agreement about how the situation can be corrected. The young person can influence the consequences, which contributes to his or her level of commitment to whatever is agreed upon.

Instead of demanding monetary compensation, efforts are made to find other means of compensation such as age-appropriate work compensation or a so-called behavioural agreement. Participating in street mediation group activities can also be agreed to count as a means of compensation.

Mediation is often more effective in influencing the behaviour of the young person than a criminal process. It aims at avoiding a win or lose scenario and scapegoating the young person. In spite of this, dealing with the event usually causes the young person to feel ashamed. Feeling ashamed can, however, be positive and reintegrating – and teach something to the participants.

Interventions for groups and individuals

Offenses committed by young people are often the result of thoughtlessness and the desire to experience new things. Especially in group situations it can be difficult to withstand peer pressure or stop a situation that feels wrong to begin with even before it escalates. In addition to the mediation process, street mediation includes group activities where a whole group of friends can be brought around the same table. In this case, the effects of the intervention are much more far-reaching than in work that deals with individuals only.

Street mediation increases the guardian’s awareness regarding the young person´s free time activities.

Parents’ opportunity to deal with the actions

Guardians are part of the street mediation process and their consent is a prerequisite for the entire operation. A guardian might be shocked by the wrongdoings of a first-timer. Repetitive misbehaviour on the other hand may create a sense of helplessness. As such, this form of youth work offers parents the possibility to address problematic behaviour. Support from professional educators can be an important extra resource for parents.

Professionals from different fields work together

Street mediation is based on the cooperation of professionals from different fields. Efficient use of mediation requires a network of participants through which a young person can be guided to trained street mediators. In addition to youth and social work professionals, security workers, the police, mediation services and social services cooperate in the work. Cooperation enables the sharing of specific concrete practices and knowledge. Existing resources are used in a more efficient way as the amount of redundant work is reduced.

Training people to make street mediation a national operation

Street mediation was originally developed in Norway. Children of the Station has adapted it to Finnish conditions. During the years 2013 and 2014 small-scale mediation operations were performed in Helsinki among other projects financed by Finland’s Slot Machine Association (RAY). RAY granted separate project funding for mediation in 2015–2017 that will be used for developing and expanding the operations nationwide.

 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Virpi Roponen, tel. +358 40 847 5739

Timo Kyllönen, tel. +358 50 492 6673

Heikki Turkka, tel. +358 50 518 5511

firstname.lastname [at] asemanlapset.fi

 

Aseman Lapset ry

Simonkatu 3 A, 00100 Helsinki

tel. +358 9 654 740

info [at] asemanlapset.fi

www.asemanlapset.fi