Throughout the world, the name “Dayton” is synonymous with a mediated peace agreement. What is less well known is that thousands of Dayton citizens mediate their own peace agreements with the help of volunteer citizen mediators. The Dayton Mediation Center of Dayton, Ohio is a leader in helping citizens make and keep peace.
The Dayton Mediation Center, with the help of skilled citizen volunteers who act as mediators, has clearly shown that people are willing and able to be responsible for resolving their own disagreements.
The Center receives over 2,000 referrals and conducts more than 575 mediations annually involving over 2,000 citizens. Local research shows that when citizens engage other citizens through mediation, calls to the police fall between 50 and 85 percent. Overall this service to the community represents an estimated value of over $270,000.
The mediation process used in Dayton has a clearly developed theoretical foundation. It is based on a belief that people, even when in conflict, are willing and able to engage each other in a positive, constructive manner. In order to develop a practice of mediation that truly incorporates this belief, citizen volunteers spend 50 hours in training their first year and up to 30 hours annually thereafter. The center has 75 active volunteer mediators who in the past year alone have spent over 4,000 hours in training and in mediations.
Dialogue is considered essential for a functioning Democracy. Mediation can be democracy at its best when “We the people…,” are skilled at helping one another engage in productive dialogue. The Dayton Mediation Center incorporates the following principles to foster this dialogue:
* Mediators do not assure they know the way for people in conflict to interact. Mediators work with them to develop an individualized mediation process that embodies how they want to interact in their mediation.