The difference between “Conflict,” “Harm,” and “Violence”

The conflict we experience is not the same.  Mediators, RJ facilitators, teachers, youth professionals, administrators, and the like all struggle to deal with conflict in effective ways, partially because conflict is so complex.  If we approach conflict in the same way we will get terrible results.  Teachers often have great skill “conflict” the lowest level of interpersonal conflict.  Some teachers are empathetic, some redirect, others still separate.  While we may debate the merit of each, I feel that educator skill deteriorates when interpersonal conflict escalates beyond conflict into Harm.

What is Violence?  It is the intense experience of powerlessness.  Murder, rape, torture are all examples of Violence.  Mediators struggle when confronted with violence… largely because word fall short when facilitating while Violence is or was present.  Words are the tool of the Mediator and largely any educated adult.  We try desperately to make the feelings go away with words.  In fact our words often disrupt relationships.  In cases of Violence “be present” and “bearing witness” are skills that serve the facilitator much better then words.

Understand that interpersonal conflict can’t solved or facilitated with one set of tools.

About rjfacilitator

My experience, education, and passion have met in alternative discipline. Through my policy work and my mediation experience I have worked and studied the dynamic components of discipline in many settings. While Restorative Justice is not the only way to approach conflict in communities, it has provided me an effective model in which to examine and engage in conflict. We provide custom programs for schools, colleges, and youth serving agencies seeking to engage with conflict using healthy and sustainable tools.
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