ARAG MEDIATORS is a funding program which aims to foster holistic conflict management at secondary schools in North Rhine-Westphalia, one of the 16 Federal States in Germany. In order to foster holistic conflict management ARAG will foster the education of future mediators, helping students themselves to become 'peer mediators' and enabling teachers to become 'school counselors'. This program will also involve the development of informative materials for students and instructional materials for teachers, with a focus on quality and standards. Once the project is running, a platform for 'best-practice-sharing' may be introduced, as well as an 'ARAG Mediators Award' which will acknowledge and encourage outstanding achievements.
The project comprises three implementation steps: Firstly, the concrete needs have to be determined after an analysis of the current situation at schools in North Rhine-Westphalia and project details need to be agreed upon with the respective official public authorities (presumably by September/October 2012). Based on these findings ARAG will devise a concrete concept on how secondary schools in North Rhine-Westphalia could be supported and how a state-wide mediation project could be implemented (presumably October 2012). After this, ARAG will start with preparing all organizational matters and all preliminary activities (presumably October to December 2012). Kick-off for ARAG MEDIATORS is scheduled for the first quarter of 2013.
As legal insurance provider, ARAG SE has a broad knowledge of mediation as a means of out of court conflict resolution. ARAG wants to use this knowledge to devise a state-wide mediation learning program for secondary schools in North Rhine-Westphalia, one of the 16 Federal States in Germany. Presently, students often encounter violence and bullying (mobbing) in schools. The number of incidents is correlated to the type of school students attend, as four different types of schools currently exist in Germany. A study by the University of Bochum found that 14 percent of students at lower secondary schools (called 'Hauptschule') and eight percent of students at academic secondary schools (called 'Gymnasium') have already been impacted by violence. Through this study, Professor Thomas Feltes found that bullying in schools is becoming more brutal. Therefore, there is a great need for mediation programs in Germany's schools. Secondly, the quality of current mediation programs varies widely. Some schools provide good mediation services while others don't offer mediation at all. Standardization is needed and professionalism could be increased to improve the impact of school mediation programs on bullying in schools.