May 22, 2014

Opportunities for Juveniles to Repair Relationships

We are delighted to report that our mediators have been busy conducting sessions involving youth, their families and community members. Since our last report, CCR has served 77 clients through the juvenile victim-offender mediation program (126 have been served since the campaign’s start in December). Thank you for providing the essential support to give young people, their families and their communities a chance to talk, strengthen relationships and repair harm.

We know that the experience is powerful for people through feedback we get on the program. We have attached some statistics that indicate that 87% of juvenile participants to mediation are satisfied with the process. 94% of parent participants are satisfied with the process.

Statistics don’t tell the whole story. The following story describes a mediation held at CCR (all names have been changed to protect client confidentiality).

Kevin, 17, came from a family with limited means. He tried to make money doing odd jobs to help his family. One method he used for making extra money was to collect and sell cans to recycling centers. After a long day of collecting cans, Kevin went to his local center to see how much he could get. When the store clerk refused to buy the cans, Kevin lashed out, yelling, breaking a window and damaging a door. Kevin's outburst caused a significant amount of damage.

With the help of his screening officer, Kevin’s case was placed in the Diversion Program with the Center for Conflict Resolution, where he was offered the chance to have mediation with a store manager. While in mediation, Kevin was able to sit with his family and the Store Manager to explain why he got so upset that day. With the mediator’s help, Kevin was able to apologize to the Store Manager and explain the difficulties he was facing in his life. Kevin shared that he had been struggling to manage his recently diagnosed bipolar-disorder without much support at home. A strong feeling of isolation combined with the pressure of managing a new diagnosis made Kevin more sensitive to the rejection at the store.

At the conclusion of the mediation, Kevin and his family came to a resolution. The store manager did not ask Kevin pay for all of the damage done; he only asked Kevin to make a small payment to restore the broken window. Kevin also agreed to to perform community service for a week in the Cook County Sheriff’s program. Finally with the mediator's help, Kevin and his family were able to agree to discuss all decisions about addressing his mental health together. Everyone left the session with more clarity and hope about moving forward, especially Kevin. 

Your support makes it possible for CCR to deliver critically needed services to clients. Thank you for your investment in the communities of Chicago.

Feb 24, 2014

Juvenile Mediation -- New Cases Coming In!

We initiated the Global Giving campaign to raise funds in support of our juvenile victim-offender mediation work at the start of the 2013 Holiday Season. With your support, we have opened 23 new juvenile cases since December 1, 2013. 

Here is a story to illustrate our services during this time period:

"Shanice grew up with a large family in a loving home, but she still felt like something was missing because she couldn’t afford all the things her peers could. While spending time with her older cousin, she was exposed to an alternative option: shoplifting. Based on the conversation with her cousin, Shanice felt that this was her only solution because she knew her mother could not afford to get her all the things she wanted. After begging for weeks, Shanice finally got her Mom to take her to one of her favorite stores. At a store filled with trendy fashions, Shanice decided to attempt shoplifting for the first time. Before Shanice could leave the store, a store clerk caught her and she was arrested.

Shanice was assigned a probation officer and she was placed in the Diversion Program with the Center for Conflict Resolution, where she was offered the chance to have mediation with a store manager. While in mediation Shanice was able to sit with her mom and the Store Manager to explain why she would attempt to shoplift. Shanice’s Mom was shocked at her behavior because Shanice was a good student and had never been in real trouble before.

After speaking with the mediator, Shanice was able to apologize to both her Mom and the Store Manager. With the help of the mediator Shanice discussed her goals for the future, and came to an agreement with the Store Manager about returning to the store to find clothing that matched her aspirations. So moved by the session, the Store Manager agreed to assist Shanice and her family whenever they came back to her store location."

As this story illustrates, mediation is an environment in which everyone present is invited to share the impact the offense had on them. Most often, an offense doesn't hurt only the victim -- sometimes community members have been harmed, or perhaps the offender's own family. Perhaps one or more of the participants have incurred a financial burden, perhaps the victim has been physically injured, or perhaps someone involved in the mediation has experienced emotional trauma. 

When a young offender is given the opportunity to hear these stories, s/he is invited to talk about their own life experiences, and the events leading up to their committing the offense. S/he has an opportunity to face those affected by their offense, and everyone has an opportunity to come up with ideas for repairing the harm. 

This experience might be vastly different than going through a court proceeding, in which there is little or no opportunity to address the needs of victims, and offenders have little opportunity to repair harm to the victims and their own communities. 

Since December, we have served over 75 clients through this program with intake, screening and mediation services. We look forward to working with more people throughout the year. 

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