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Feb 6, 2020

Mediation Training for Community Workers Who Come in Contact with Youths in Conflict

A weeklong event in Belize City is sharpening the skills of police officers and others who deal with persons, particularly youth, involved in crime.  Restore Belize has organized a training workshop on mediation which is looking at a number of issues that have to do with conflict resolution. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.


Duane Moody, Reporting

Police officers attached to the Community Policing Unit and personnel from agencies that work with young people in conflict have been engaged in a week-long training hosted by RESTORE Belize in partnership with the Ministry of Human Development, Social Transformation & Poverty Alleviation, through its Youth & Community Transformation Project. The workshop focuses on identifying sources of conflict, mediation tools, including questioning skills, problem solving, trust building and de-escalating conflicts.


Anna Banner-Guy

Anna Banner-Guy, Communications & Resource Mobilization officer, RESTORE Belize

“RESTORE Belize has a mandate to respond to violent crimes, particularly within the Belize City communities. Conflict resolution is not new to us; we have done this before with many different schools, primarily in the more violent communities in Belize City. But what is different about this training is that we are also including community workers. We know that as much as the teachers work with the teachers, the government as well as other social partners and N.G.O.s work along with young people through different programmes. It is important for us to arm all our community workers with these very important skills in conflict mediation.”


One of the facilitators for the training is a counsellor by profession, Pamela Dyer. She says that at times these community workers and N.G.O.s who engage with the youth must understand their roles as mediators. Sometimes that may mean removing the proverbial work hat.


Pamela Dyer

Pamela Dyer, Facilitator

“For me as a counsellor and as a trained mediator, it takes some time to develop these skills. It’s a new way of dealing with crime and violence; it’s a new way of even dealing with your personal life. It’s a skill that you take away for yourself and for your profession so I could understand the police officer in terms of having to go into different roles. You are trained as a police officer and as a counsellor and I can speak from my own experience as a counsellor, I had to adapt the new skills. It is not about making the decisions for the person, but using communications skills in probing, paraphrasing or reframing—taking the negative out of the conflict itself from the conversation of the disputants.  As a mediator, you are not a counsellor, so you have to really remember your role. It is not a dual situation. So while you are mediating a person or a dispute or two disputant and you realize that this person really needs counselling that’s when you have to make note of it and refer to.”


For the Police Department, community policing is key to solving crimes and they would often times come in contact with youths in conflict. Sergeant Marleny Montejo spoke of some of the challenges they face and how the training will assist them in carrying out their duties.


Marleny Montejo

Sgt. Marleny Montejo, Community Police Unit, Eastern Division

“Gaining the trust from the youths; that’s one of the biggest things that we are learning here. Of all we have learnt that being the mediator is not being the police officer at that time. We are the ones who would usually respond to conflicts between youths and we know these days our youths are having a lot of conflict amongst themselves—be it students or youths on the street. So me and my colleague—we usually do mediation, but the old school way. So we are here to learn and enhance our knowledge of doing it the proper way.”


Duane Moody for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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