The Reading in Schools Project: Conflict Resolution

Utilizing literature and thoughtful discussion, students will learn the basic skills they need to resolve conflict and respect differences in an effort to decrease bullying in our schools and communities.

Mission Statement

Sarasota County is a leader in recognizing and promoting mediation, which is used effectively and efficiently to resolve disputes as an alternative to litigation in our courts. Conflict resolution and the mediation process is being taught and practiced in many Sarasota County Schools and throughout the community as a means towards a more peaceful society. Our program and volunteer mediators are dedicated to supporting that goal.

Who We Are

We are volunteer mediators and staff from the 12th Judicial Circuit’s Citizen Dispute Settlement Program (CDSP) in Manatee, Sarasota, and DeSoto Counties.  The Citizen Dispute Settlement Program of the 12th Judicial Circuit was established and approved by the Chief Judge of this Circuit pursuant to Florida Statute 44.201 in 1986. The program provides a non-judicial, voluntary, and informal opportunity for citizens to address disputes by participating in mediation prior to or in lieu of litigation.  All mediation services are provided by Florida Supreme Court Certified County, Circuit Civil, and Family mediators.  As mediators, we have a passion for resolving conflict.  We assist individuals in finding ways to problem solve by facilitating discussion, identifying issues, and offering alternatives to help people reach a mutually acceptable agreement.

Our Initiative

Every year, the Board of County Commissioners in Sarasota and Manatee Counties gives its support in proclaiming one week in October as “Mediation Week.”  Our community leaders recognize the importance of mediation as an alternative to litigation in our court system and pronounce that teaching and practicing conflict resolution in our schools leads to a more peaceful society.  In an effort to support that initiative, volunteer mediators visit schools in the 12th Judicial Circuit to provide conflict resolution and anti-bullying education to students through books, activities, and interactive dialogue.

Our Project

The Reading in Schools Project curriculum has been approved by the Safe and Drug Free Schools Advisory Committee of the Sarasota County School Board.  The CDSP Program has selected a variety of books about resolving conflict to read to students.  Following the story, the mediators engage students in an interactive discussion and a fun take home activity.  All reading materials and content for discussion are available for review by your education professionals prior to the mediator’s arrival. All volunteer mediators have been pre-screened for criminal history by the Dispute Resolution Center prior to receiving certification and are screened every two years by our program.

Our Goal

Young children are faced with conflict every day.  We believe even the simplest conflict resolution techniques can instill into young children critical life-long problem solving and social interaction skills.  We aim to be role models to young children and provide them with age appropriate knowledge about what mediators are, what the mediation process is, and how we help people resolve conflict through better communication.  We hope to help them recognize what conflict and bullying is and how to appropriately address it among their peers.

We would love the opportunity to be invited to your daycare, preschool, elementary school, after school program, or summer camp!