Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Mediation Center provides vital service

Do you know what the No. 1 known motive for murder is in Kansas City? It’s not drugs, gangs or domestic violence. It’s arguments. Last year, 22 people were killed because they were involved in a dispute with someone who could not resolve the conflict without violence.

This deadly shortage of conflict resolution and anger management skills can be remedied. We have a great resource locally in the non-profit Community Mediation Center. Our police officers sometimes refer individuals involved in ongoing conflicts to the Center – usually neighbors with issues and landlords/tenants.

The Center’s goal is to give people the skills to deal with conflict at lower levels so it doesn’t escalate into violence. In addition to police, they also get referrals from places like schools, churches, the court and the City’s Aim 4 Peace program.

When the City’s mediation services were cut from the budget four years ago, the Community Mediation Center picked up the slack. They served 5,942 people in 2012, 61 percent of whom were from Kansas City, Mo. They do a lot of valuable work in this community without a lot of resources, so I’d encourage those who are interested to consider volunteering or supporting them in other ways. More information about how to do so is on their web site.

The Center also provides training to everyone from students to business professionals. I even plan to take their interpersonal conflict resolution training to make me more effective at my job.

Many people have called for ways to reduce violence in our city. Giving people the tools to resolve conflict is a major one that doesn’t get the attention it should. I’m glad organizations like the Community Mediation Center are there to step in the gap.

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