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Workshop Teaches Students Conflict Resolution Skills

On Thursday, students at the Broome-Tioga BOCES West Learning Center in Apalachin learned some new conflict resolution skills.

The Binghamton Community and Schools Together (BCAST) program hosted a restorative justice workshop at the school. The event featured restorative justice trainer Duke Fisher.

Restorative justice is a practice that assesses and evaluates the root cause of problematic behavior.

Middle school students, along with staff, learned how to work together to solve conflicts. This was done through teamwork activities and group discussion focusing on real-life conflicts.

"It doesn't isolate the actor, or actors, in a conflict. It includes them. It doesn't ostracize them, like you're bad, you get put over here," said BCAST Member Ralpalla Richardson, "They actually become part of the discussion of how do we get to the need that wasn't being met, how do we resolve the issue so it doesn't happen again, but also how do we repair trust."

According to officials, this practice has been shown to improve students' well-being both at school and at home.

Students said they will use what they learned on Thursday in resolving future conflicts.

"This is going to help me to be able to get myself out of them and not be stuck in them now," said 7th Grader Alexandria Gross, "This is going to be an easier way to be me, myself, and I, without having to have that me, myself, and drama."

BCAST is a grant-funded program in cooperation with Lourdes Hospitals' Youth Services group. It was designed to curb youth violence.

This is the first year the West Learning Center has implemented the restorative justice practice.