Juvenile Victim-Offender Mediation

by Center for Conflict Resolution
Juvenile Victim-Offender Mediation

Jaclyn and Olivia had been friends since 8th grade. During their junior year of high school Olivia got a car and, as one of the only people to have a car, often drove her friends to school and hang outs. Right before winter break, Jaclyn and Olivia were spending time at a friend’s house with a few other teenagers when Olivia got into an argument with another friend. Before long Jaclyn got into the argument as well and insulted Olivia. Olivia was angry, so she got in her car, turned it on, and locked the doors, intending to leave. Jaclyn thought that Olivia was only joking, and assumed she wouldn’t leave without giving Jaclyn a ride home, so she hopped on the trunk of the car to continue chatting with her friends.

Olivia put her foot on the gas pedal and in an instant Jaclyn was on the ground. At the time, no one realized how badly she had been hurt, so another friend gave Jaclyn a ride home and the group dispersed. Later that evening, when Jaclyn’s father returned from work, he found her demeanor strange and, after hearing about what happened, insisted on taking Jaclyn to the hospital. Doctors determined she had a concussion and had injured her arm falling off the car.

Jaclyn’s father called the police to report the incident and Olivia was arrested the following day. Olivia’s case was referred for mediation at the Center for Conflict Resolution. Jaclyn and Olivia participated along with their parents – Jaclyn’s dad, David, and Olivia’s mom, Val. The mediation was held 3 months after the incident had occurred and in that time Jaclyn and Olivia had not had much contact. Their parents had never spoken.

From the beginning of the mediation it was clear that David was very angry. When he had a chance to speak he railed against Olivia’s actions and repeatedly demanded that her driver’s license be taken away. The mediator asked questions and guided the conversation to determine what was motivating David’s anger. Soon they all came to learn the extent of Jaclyn’s injuries. While her leg had healed quickly, the concussion had been quite serious and Jaclyn had missed weeks of school. She was still struggling to catch up on her class work and continued to see a therapist for memory concerns.

The conversation was challenging for all four parties. Olivia insisted that she had not intended to hurt Jaclyn and therefore was unwilling to accept blame for her injuries. Val explained that Olivia had been punished for the incident – she no longer had a car and had been grounded for months.

The mediator used listening and reflective tools to help Olivia process what had occurred, working with her to separate intention from impact. Eventually, Olivia came to realize that although she had not wanted Jaclyn to get hurt her action had caused it to happen. Additionally, Jaclyn accepted some responsibility, acknowledging that she had been foolish to climb on the car.

By the end of the mediation everyone was speaking calmly. Through mediation they had a chance to vent their frustrations, explain their behaviors, and take responsibility. Val offered to contact her insurance to assist in any unpaid medical bills and she and David exchanged phone numbers and made a plan to connect in the coming weeks. Jaclyn and Olivia apologized to one another and agreed to put the matter behind them and move forward in their friendship.

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Friends mean the world to Jessica, a teenager referred to mediation after she was arrested for fighting at school. Jessica and her mother, Vivian, came to mediation several months after the fight, and it was apparent to the mediator that the mother and daughter had a barrier in communication: while Vivian spoke exclusively Spanish, Jessica was much more comfortable speaking in English, and, when pushed, communicated with her mother in a mix between the two languages. There seemed to be many things which were lost in translation between the two women and their bilingual mediator was able to help them find the tools to communicate.

From the start, Vivian was adamant that her daughter had fallen in with the wrong group of people and wanted to empower her daughter to make the best choices as to the company she keeps. Jessica recognized that her behavior had changed when she joined a specific group of friends, and that by hanging out with them she had been in some serious situations, such as the fight that resulted in her arrest. Jessica noted that she had made concerted efforts to extricate herself from that group, but as a result, was worried for the coming school year because she felt she had no friends.

Despite the fact that Jessica agreed completely with Vivian, recognized that their relationship had been improving, and that Jessica had taken her mother’s advice and was spending more time with a childhood friend, Vivian was very emotional and wanted to focus the conversation with talk of the fight and negative changes in Jessica’s behavior when she joined the group of friends – which she had since left. While Vivian needed to vent about what she had been experiencing, Jessica was feeling as though she was continuing to be berated and punished when she had taken steps to address what both parties agreed as the root of the problem: the group of friends.

Through a guided conversation with a skilled mediator, an agreement was discussed and drawn up which addressed both of their concerns. Jessica and Vivian agreed that Vivian would be more involved with Jessica’s friends, and would be happy to have them over or meet them at community events. Jessica trusts her judgment, and wanted Vivian’s support as she rebuilds her network of friends. They also agreed that they would consider changing Jessica’s school, in the event that her childhood friend did not change schools to join her. Finally, they agreed on a plan moving forward, in the event that Jessica were to find herself in a situation where things may be escalating to a fight; Jessica would consult her teachers and her mother.

Both parties indicated that they had had open lines of communication and a good relationship, but that trust had eroded in the past year. They both wanted to work to re-establish that trust, and the mediation gave them the opportunity to acknowledge everything that they had not discussed and create a plan for moving forward.


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Julia and her son, Daniel, came to CCR because they were having trouble communicating, and Daniel was having trouble controlling his temper when they argued. Julia had called the police twice because Daniel was acting aggressively – slamming doors and turning over chairs - and she was worried someone would get hurt. The police warned that the next time this happened, Daniel would have to go in front of a judge.

Julia and Daniel had always enjoyed an easy-going relationship. Julia was a ‘fun, goofy mom’ who got along great with Daniel and his two siblings. Then, at the beginning of freshman year, Daniel began to spend more time on the weekends with his friends, ignoring the curfew his mother set for him and intentionally staying out so late he had to spend the night at his friend’s house.

Julia was extremely upset that her son was ignoring the rules, but more than that, she was worried. Their neighborhood was not that safe, and gangs regularly tried to recruit teenagers, including Daniel. In order to get to his friend’s house, Daniel had to take a 15 minute bus ride, and the bus stops running at a certain time. Julia worried so much that she missed work multiple times because she stayed up late waiting for Daniel to return home.

Daniel and Julia were having a hard time pinpointing the cause, or even the start, of Daniel ignoring rules, being aggressive and lying to his mother. Through a guided conversation, Julia and Daniel divulged that the family had to move at the beginning of the school year – Daniel didn’t see his friends at school anymore, and couldn’t just hang out with them in the evening like he did when they lived all on the same street. Additionally, the family car had broken down a few months ago, and money was tight, so they did not have cable. Daniel was bored at the house – his friends had gaming systems and cable TV. And, because they no longer had a car, the family spent a lot less time doing fun activities together. All of these factors happened at the same time, taking their toll on the family and Daniel.

In a private conversation with the mediator, Julia began to tear up, saying, “I don’t know how to show him I love him. I want him to know I love and respect him, and I don’t think he does.” The mediator gave her an assignment - write down all the things she wanted to say to him. Daniel also opened up during a private conversation with the mediator, saying that he thought what he was going through was a phase, that he loves his mother and wasn’t trying to disrespect her.

When they came together again, Julia read what she had written for Daniel, and Daniel expressed what he was feeling to his mother. With the mediator’s help, they developed a communication plan, which included rules and consequences for breaking those rules, as well as specific items for both to work on. They both left feeling as though mediation helped them develop a solid plan to improve their communication and relationship.

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Jason and Markus are two teenagers who only knew each other because they sometimes hung out at the same park. One afternoon Jason started pushing Markus around because he had heard rumors that Markus was trying to date his girlfriend, Veronica. The pushing turned into something more aggressive. Jason became angrier as he chased Markus around the park, landing blows and kicking Markus when he was on the ground.

There were other teenagers in the park and the incident was recorded on a phone and posted on social media. Eventually, the police arrived. Jason was arrested for battery and sent to mediation by the court.

Jason and Markus, along with Jason’s mom, Denise, and Markus’ dad, Henry, met with the CCR mediator. At first, it seemed that Henry had more to say than Markus. Although he was very upset that Markus had been beaten up, Henry was even more upset that the altercation was posted online. Henry believed that the video was embarrassing for his son and would have a negative impact on his reputation. It was Henry’s priority to make sure the video was taken down.

During the conversation Jason and Denise shared that Jason had been dealing with anger management issues. He had been building resources for how to better manage similar situations, but had been strongly impacted by the rumors about Markus and Veronica. Markus used the time to explain that he and Veronica were very good friends and that he wasn’t interested in dating her.

The mediator asked them both questions about the incident and came to learn that both Markus and Jason had been at the park for the same reason – they were looking to make friends. Since the incident, neither of them had gone back to the park and both expressed feelings of isolation and loneliness. They agreed that they would both like to use the park again without concerns about a future confrontation.

With the mediator’s assistance, the young men were able to discuss their dynamic and came to an agreement that everything was settled between them. Henry still wanted to have the video removed from the internet and Markus agreed to do so. During the mediation, Markus was able to use his mother’s phone to delete the video from his social media pages.

Everyone left the mediation satisfied that the matter had been resolved. 


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Lara, 17, and Jaclyn, 20, are sisters. They were arrested together four months ago. Lara was accused of illegally giving her older sister a 20% discount at a department store where Lara was employed. Store security saw them on camera and called the police. The sisters were arrested and escorted from the store in handcuffs.

When the sisters came to mediation, Jaclyn’s case was in criminal court and the family was worried that the outcome would affect her ability to go to medical school. Lara’s case was being heard in juvenile court and her record was eligible for expungement in six months if she did not get into trouble again and successfully completed a program designed by the court. One of the requirements for Lara was that she participate in mediation through CCR. The department store did not send a representative to the mediation at the courthouse, so CCR held a family mediation with Lara and her father, Luis.

Luis began the mediation by expressing his concern that he and his family are part of a small community and he didn’t want word of his daughters’ arrests to get out. He built a successful business since moving to the United States and said that he works hard to give his children everything they might need or want. All he wanted was that his daughters work hard in school and bring pride to the family.

Lara explained that she felt her parents didn’t give her the same level of trust that they did Jaclyn. She wanted to prove that she could hold down a job and still get good grades in school. She also wanted to impress Jaclyn with her new position, and so she arranged for a discount on merchandise her sister purchased.

Over the course of the mediation, Lara acknowledged that she did something wrong and hadn’t thought through the consequences. She never considered how this might affect her family, especially her older sister. Luis acknowledged that he needs to improve communication with his daughters. He had been too busy working in his store and he felt badly about not paying more attention to what was going on in the family.

At the end of the mediation, Luis agreed to spend some time each evening connecting with his daughters. Lara agreed that something like this will not happen again, and that she will be more careful to consider the impact of her actions on the family in the future.

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Organization Information

Center for Conflict Resolution

Location: Chicago, IL - USA
Facebook: Facebook Page
Project Leader:
Cassandra Lively
Chicago, IL United States
$57,173 raised of $75,000 goal
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