Youth Services at the Good Shepherd Mediation Program focus primarily on diversion for the juvenile justice system, delinquency prevention, and support for positive climate and restorative practices in the schools.
The Juvenile Offenders Diversion Programs (JODP) is a restorative-justice-based initiative designed to reduce delinquent behavior among youths. These programs offer at-risk and delinquent youth the opportunity to learn constructive ways to manage conflict, control their anger, and make better decisions in their lives. Focusing on skill building and personal reflection, JODP seeks to aid young people to exercise their power to shape their own lives. Recidivism statistics show that juveniles who go through the juvenile offender adjudication process have a 44.4% chance of being rearrested within three years while youths who attend a JODP workshop have less than a 24% chance of recidivating within the same amount of time.
Good Shepherd also offers an array of training and enrichment opportunities for students, teachers, staff, and administration in elementary, middle, and high schools in the Philadelphia area. These programs range from training students and teachers in Peer Mediation and supporting the implementation of Peer Mediation programs in schools to Restorative Practices trainings for teachers and staff. We also provide Conflict Resolution Education for Teachers, Conflict Coaching, and Restorative Practices as a Classroom Management Tool trainings for schools.
(Sources: Chernoff, N. & Watson, B. (2000). An Investigation of Philadelphia's Youth Aid Panel: A Community-Based Diversion Program for First-Time Youthful Offenders. Philadelphia: Public/Private Ventures and Good Shepherd Mediation Program: Court & Community Services "in-house JODP recidivism tracking")
Good Shepherd Mediation Program offers the following workshops for juvenile offenders and youth at risk of delinquency:
- Conflict Resolution Workshops for Youth Aid Panel Referrals - Youth who have committed misdemeanor and simple felonies are referred by the Philadelphia Office of the District Attorney's 28 Youth Aid Panels. Participants attend the same workshops as the summary offenders. Youth who participate in this program must have admitted their involvement in the delinquent act with which they were charged.
- Effects of Retail Theft Module - In addition to learning conflict resolution techniques, this portion of the Conflict Resolution workshop addresses personal and social pressures that can trigger retail theft, challenges that shoplifters face in their lives, retail theft law and its consequences, and behavior modification techniques.
- Youth Delinquency and Violence Prevention Workshops - Youth at risk of delinquency are referred to conflict resolution workshops at GSMP by parents, teachers, faith leaders, recreation center staff, and other social service organizations in Philadelphia and surrounding communities.
- Responsible Use of Social Media - Youth who have been charged under the PA cyber-harassment statute 18 Pa. Cons. Stat.§ 2709 may be diverted from to this program. Teaching important skills such as care for self and others in the digital landscape, bystander intervention, digital communication skills, and how to cultivate empathy for others online, this program also serves as a preventative measure and can be offered to schools, after school programs, or summer camps to help curb the rise of cyberbullying before it comes to the level of judicial involvement.
Good Shepherd Mediation Program provides the following trainings in the schools for students and staff:
- Peer Mediation Training and Implementation - GSMP offers a range of training and implementation packages to help support schools in establishing, maintaining, or refreshing a Peer Mediation Program. Peer mediation programs empower students as problem solvers and peace makers. Our training includes direct skill building for the Peer Mediators, support staff, and administration, as well as consulting and support to ensure sustainable implementation. Peer Mediation programs in schools lead to better behavioral and academic outcomes from both the mediators themselves and the school as a whole. GSMP offers Peer Mediation training for Elementary, Middle, and High Schools, and has provided peer mediation implementation training for over 60 schools in the Greater Philadelphia Area and South Africa.
- Conflict Resolution Education for Teachers - The GSMP conflict resolution skills workshops empowers teachers to more positively and productively handle conflicts as they arise in the classroom. Teachers can apply skills from this training to conflicts between students, conflicts they face with students, conflicts with parents, and others. Teachers trained in conflict resolution are also better able to teach positive approaches to conflict to their students.
- Circles in Schools - Based in Native American tradition, Circle practice has many applications in schools. GSMP can train and coach teachers to use Circles for community building, teaching, conflict resolution and classroom management. Circles are highly effective in improving school climate and increasing student engagement.
- Restorative Practices as a Classroom Management Tool - This training provides teachers with techniques, skills, and practices to support positive classroom environment rooted in the values of Restorative Practices. These strength-based, student-centered practices can support student success and classroom climate.