Juvenile Victim-Offender Mediation

by Center for Conflict Resolution
Juvenile Victim-Offender Mediation
Jul 31, 2017

The Streets

Juan and his parents, Patricia and Alfredo, were sent to CCR for a mediation after Juan was arrested. Since Patricia did not speak English, the mediator conducted the mediation in Spanish.

Patricia and Alfredo are both undocumented and work hard to provide for their family of five. They really want a stable home, but since Juan joined a gang a year ago, the house had become unstable. Juan had stolen things from the house, came home past curfew, and had run away on two occasions. Patricia and Alfredo frequently call the police when Juan doesn’t come home.

It was obvious to the mediator that Juan and his parents had not had a productive conversation in a while. They seemed to get a lot of new information from each other when the mediator began to ask questions. The mediator asked about what was happening and what had led to Juan’s arrest. He was in a car with other gang members and was arrested when the vehicle was pulled over. The family discussed the incident and Juan shared his experience of spending the night in jail. His parents talked about how worried they were when he did not come home.

After some time in the mediation the parties began to speak more freely. Alfredo shared that Juan is smart, a hard worker and respectful but that he has not been acting that way. The mediator asked Juan about being in the gang, his old friends, and why he is so angry. Juan responded at length while continuing to say that he did not care about anything. For the first time, he told his parents why he joined the gang – the guys in the neighborhood would chase him and Juan hated them so much. He didn’t know how else to manage the situation, so he joined the opposing gang. Juan didn’t want to bother his parents with his problems, but Patricia and Alfredo said that if they had known, they would have moved or helped him. Juan reiterated that they were his problems, to which Patricia responded, “your problems are my problems, son.”  

As the mediation continued, Alfredo suggested his son get a job. Juan agreed that he really wanted a job, but the last time he had a job his parents made him stop working because they thought he was spending his money on drugs and alcohol. That issue seemed to dissolve when they talked about the pros and cons of Juan having a job. Surprisingly, they all wanted the same thing and started working together to brainstorm how to help Juan get a job. Alfredo offered to take Juan to the bank to open a savings account and explained how Juan would need money for his future. They discussed how that would work, and Juan agreed that he would be willing to save some money based on how much he made. From there, Patricia and Alfredo told Juan what they expected of him at home—to follow five basic rules. Juan then told his parents what he needed from them—space when he was angry, for them to not repeat the same thing over and over again, and to be able to spend the night with friends occasionally with permission.

In the end, the mediation gave Juan and his parents a space to communicate with each other about what was really important and time to discuss how they wanted to resolve the problems they had been experiencing as a family. Because the parties participated in the mediation at CCR, they were able to discuss how to improve their relationship and communication and avoid having another encounter with the police.

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Center for Conflict Resolution

Location: Chicago, IL - USA
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Project Leader:
Cassandra Lively
Chicago, IL United States
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