Chapter 4 of 5: Brittany discovers that either Christy or Sarah has spread a false rumor that she has cheated on her boyfriend named Corey. Will Brittany discover who really started the rumor and why? Will Corey believe that she was innocent and take her back?
- Click here to return to ‘Story chapters 1-5 links: A False Rumor about Brittany’ to see the previous chapters in this story.
Chapter 4: Brittany and Sarah go to Peer Mediation
Finally, the day came. Both Sarah and Brittany were called out of class. They were brought into a conference room. The two peer mediators sat side by side. Brittany and Sarah were seated at opposite sides of the table. A teacher was posted in the room for supervision, but he basically stayed out of the whole conversation. At the beginning, the teacher said, “All right, girls. Welcome to Peer Mediation. Your Peer Mediators are Jacob and Trudy. Jacob is in eighth grade and Trudy is in seventh grade. They will help you talk through your conflict. As long as you come up with a solution that pleases you both, it never has to turn into an office situation and there will be no consequences attached.”
Brittany and Sarah nodded their heads and waited for Jacob and Trudy to begin.
Jacob said, “Hi, my name is Jacob!”
“And I’m Trudy.”
Brittany and Sarah both introduced themselves. Then Jacob said, “Here is how mediation works. We are here to try to help you to come up with your own solution to your problem.”
Trudy then continued, “We don’t take sides. We are simply here to help you come up with a solution that will satisfy you both.”
Jacob and Trudy typically take turns talking all through the session. They read off a script so that they can remember everything that they are supposed to say.
Now it was Jacob’s turn. He said, “We have seven rules. Rule #1 is that you need to be willing to try to solve your problem through mediation.”
Trudy read, “Rule #2 is that only one person talks at a time. If either of you feel tempted to interrupt, feel free to jot down your thoughts on this extra sheet of paper. You will definitely be given an opportunity to share your thoughts, so please wait your turn.”
Jacob said, “Rule #3 is that there should be no name-calling or put-downs.”
Trudy said, “Rule #4 is that you both need to tell the truth.”
Jacob said, “Rule #5 is there is to be no physical fighting, yelling, or throwing things. As soon as any of that happens, the mediation session will be terminated and a teacher or principal will take over.”
Trudy said, “Rule #6 is that everything of a personal nature must be kept confidential. We would be fired as mediators if we ever told any other students about your private business. Only the mediation coordinator, the assistant principal, and the principal will see a copy of the contract that will contain the final solution that you both agree to. You both need to also agree to keep all personal and private information confidential.”
Jacob concluded, “And the last rule, number seven, is that if something you say would harm you, each other, or anyone else, we will have to report it to the mediation coordinator, the assistant principal, or the principal.”
At the end of the reading of the rules, Trudy said, “Please sign this contract indicating that you understand and agree to follow all seven rules.” Both Brittany and Sarah signed the contract about a third of the way down the page where the seven rules were listed. Now the real part of the session was ready to begin.
Jacob turned to Brittany, who was seated closest to him and asked, “Okay, this is Step Two. We are going to Gather Points of View. Brittany, please tell what happened from your point of view.”
Brittany said, “Okay, Corey is my boyfriend. But then Sarah over here told me a lie. She told me that she had heard that Christy had been telling Corey that I was cheating on him. I would never cheat on him as I really like him and would never do anything to mess it up. I went and CHECKED MY FACTS with Christy. She told me and I believed her that she didn’t even know who my boyfriend was. Next I went and CHECKED MY FACTS with Sarah. I asked her who told her that Christy told Corey that I was cheating on him. She claimed she couldn’t remember. I could tell by her eyes that she was lying.”
When Brittany finished, Jacob asked, “Is there anything you would like to add?”
“Oh, yeah,” Brittany continued. “Then I asked Sarah what she thought of Corey. She told me that she thought he was adorable and that he was one of the cutest guys in the eighth grade. That’s when I was practically positive she was just trying to get Corey for herself. Well afterward, I went up to Corey and told him what had happened. When I told him that Sarah had blamed the rumor on Christy, he was confused. He let me know that he had not talked to Christy in a long time. He said that Sarah herself had said she had seen me flirting with Brian. Then when we compared facts, we both knew that Sarah was lying. Afterward, Corey and I made up.”
Then Brittany looked at Sarah and said, “Me flirt with Brian!” Please!!! Give me a break! I don’t mean to put Brian down, but yuk! I would never go for a guy like him. I only like Corey and I don’t want that messed up again.” Then turning back to Jacob, Brittany said, “That’s why I’m here. I don’t want Little Miss Sarah here trying to mess up any of my relationships again!”
Sarah looked vastly offended. She didn’t like the way the session was going so far. She definitely felt backed into a corner.
It was now Jacob’s turn to repeat the story back to Brittany to make certain he had heard the story correctly. He said, “Okay, you were told that Christy had started that rumor about you, but then you figured out it was started by Sarah. You really like your boyfriend Corey and don’t want anyone to mess that up again. Is that about right?”
“Yeah, that’s pretty close,” Brittany said.
Now it was Trudy’s turn. Trudy, who was sitting closest to Sarah, said, “Okay, Sarah. Please tell what happened from your point of view.”
Sarah lied and said, “Well, uh, …, I heard that Brittany was cheating on her boyfriend and I thought Corey deserved to know about it.”
Jacob could tell that Brittany was about to interrupt. He muttered, “Remember Rule #2! Only one person talks at a time.”
Then Trudy said, “Sarah, let me remind you that there are no consequences in this session. If that’s the truth, okay. But we’re not going to get anywhere if you both change the story from what really happened. Rule #4 is that you need to tell the truth. Is that what really happened?”
Sarah looked down at her hands for awhile. Finally, she defensively said, “No. That’s not what happened. Okay, here’s the truth. Brittany here has had a ton of boyfriends this year. And now, she’s with one of the cutest guys in the eighth grade. Well, I’ve had a crush on Corey all year and was really mad that she was with him now. So, I told them each a lie. I guess I was hoping that Corey would break up with her and would finally turn to me. That’s it!”
Trudy said, “Thank you for telling the truth. I realize that isn’t always easy. I know it took a lot of courage on your part and I appreciate it. Is there anything you would like to add?”
“No, that’s it,” Sarah said,
Trudy then repeated Sarah’s story back to her to make certain she had understood the story correctly. She said, “Okay, you feel that Brittany has had a lot of boyfriends this year and now she is with a guy that you’ve had a crush on all year. You told them each a lie as you were hoping Corey would break up with her and like you instead. Is that right?”
Sarah nodded her head.
Jacob had noticed that Brittany was really wanting to say something. When Sarah’s turn to talk was done, he asked, “Brittany, do you have anything else you would like to add?”
Brittany said, “Yes! Uh, …, Sarah, I’m glad you told the truth. Thank you! Now I don’t want to be mean, but Corey said that he would never like you since you told lies to both of us. He wants to be with girls he can trust.”
Sarah simply looked sad and said, “Oh.” Then she muttered, “Whatever.”
Now it was Jacob’s turn to talk again. “This is Step Three. We are going to Focus on Interests. Brittany, it sounds as if you were frustrated because you were getting your BELONGING need messed with as Sarah was trying to break up your relationship with your boyfriend. You also felt DISRESPECTED because you were being lied to. You wanted more RESPECT from Sarah.”
Trudy then turned to Sarah and said, “Sarah, it sounds as if you were frustrated because you were trying to get your BELONGING need met by hooking up with Corey and it didn’t work. Then when you got accused of lying, you felt that you were not getting the RESPECT that you would have liked.”
Jacob said, “So, you both would like to have a little more RESPECT and you both want to get your BELONGING need met. So you both want some of the same things.”
The purpose of this step is to simply plant the seed that each disputant has a couple of Basic Needs in common. In this case, they both shared the Basic Needs of wanting to get more RESPECT, and they also both wanted to feel like they BELONGED.
Trudy continued, “Okay. This is Step Four. We are going to work to create WIN-WIN Options. The fourth step of Mediation is to come up with a WIN-WIN solution that will please you both. To do that, you two will brainstorm some solutions to try to solve your problem.”
Jacob said, “There are three rules to brainstorming. Rule #1 is to say any idea that comes to mind, even if it might sound silly or hard to accomplish.”
Trudy continued, “Rule #2 is let’s not judge or discuss any of these ideas until a little later. I will write down your ideas so we can look at them as a group during Step Five of Mediation.”
“The last rule,” Jacob continued, “is to try to be real creative. Try to come up with as many ideas as possible so we have lots of options. Do you agree to follow those three brainstorming rules?”
Brittany and Sarah both nodded their heads yes.
Trudy said, “Okay. Let’s brainstorm. I’m going to write down your ideas on this clip board. What could you do to resolve this dispute?”
Brittany quickly said, “Sarah could tell the truth.”
Sarah said, “I guess I could apologize to Brittany, Christy, and Corey for trying to cause trouble.”
Brittany said, “Sarah could never start any false rumors again. Oh, and also, Sarah could try to get her own boyfriend.”
Jacob asked, “What other possibilities can you think of?”
Sarah said, “After I apologize, maybe Brittany could ask Corey to help me find a boyfriend.”
Jacob asked, “Can you come up with any other ideas that you would be willing to agree to?”
Brittany said, “I can’t think of anything else.”
“Me either,” Sarah said.
Trudy said, “Okay. This is Step Five. We are going to evaluate those Options. I will read off what you two came up with.”
Option #1: Sarah could tell the truth.
Option #2: Sarah would be willing to apologize to Brittany, Christy, and Corey for trying to cause trouble.
Option #3: Sarah could never start any false rumors again.
Option #4: Sarah could try to get her own boyfriend.
Option #5: After Sarah apologizes, Brittany could ask Corey to help Sarah find a boyfriend.
Jacob asked, “Which of these solutions have the best possibilities of working?”
Sarah said, “Well, I can definitely do the top three ones on the list.”
Brittany said, “Yeah, I would appreciate that.”
So Trudy circled the top three options.
Then Sarah said, “I would like it if the last two options happened too. What do you think, Brittany? Do you think you could let Corey help me out in that way?”
Brittany looked a bit uncomfortable and said, “I don’t know. I’ll think about it. I guess a lot could depend on whether you could stick to the top three options first.”
Sarah nodded her head with determination. She said, “Well, I can do part of it right now. Brittany, I’m really sorry I started that false rumor. I hope you can forgive me. And as soon as I can, I will apologize to Christy and Corey too. You can come with me when I apologize to Corey, if you like.”
Brittany said, “Yeah, I think that would be best.”
Then Brittany and Sarah both looked at Jacob and Trudy. Jacob asked, “Does this agreement resolve the major problem?”
Brittany said, “It does as long as Sarah sticks to it.”
Sarah said, “Yeah, it does for me too, and I will stick to it. I’ve learned my lesson the hard way. I’ll never do that again.”
Trudy said, “Okay. You are both agreeing that Sarah will tell the truth. She will not start any more false rumors. And she has agreed to apologize to Christy and Corey. Of course, she has already apologized to you. We won’t write the other part into the contract, but we’ll just have an understanding that Brittany might help Sarah with the other two suggestions.”
Sarah said hopefully, “That would be nice.”
Brittany said, “We’ll see. Actually, it’s kind of up to Corey, isn’t it?”
Sarah nodded her head with resigned understanding.
Trudy said, “We will need you both to sign this contract indicating that you are willing to follow through on this agreement.”
Both Brittany and Sarah signed the contract at the bottom of the page.
Jacob said, “The final step is to discuss what you can each personally do to prevent this kind of thing from happening again. What about you, Brittany? What can you do next time to keep this from happening again?”
Brittany said, “Well, next time, I can CHECK MY FACTS sooner. I can do it in a nicer way. I mean, I actually shoved Christy when I CHECKED MY FACTS with her. I already apologized to her about that. And I can go to Corey immediately and talk things out with him so that we don’t have any more misunderstandings.”
Trudy then asked Sarah, “Sarah, what can you do next time to keep this from happening again?”
Sarah said, “I can tell the truth. I should mind my own business and not start rumors in the first place. And I guess that’s it.”
Jacob said, “Please understand that the major goal of mediation is to learn to resolve your own conflicts before they get too big to handle on your own.”
Trudy concluded, “We want to thank you both for coming to mediation and for cooperating in this process.”
Jacob said, “Yeah! Congratulations for working to reach a WIN-WIN agreement.”
Before they got their pass back to class, the teacher said, “Good job, Brittany and Sarah! Now what happens is that a copy of this contract is made and put into each of your records in the office. Sarah, as long as you stick to this agreement, nothing more will be said about it, and there will not be any consequences. However, if you break this agreement, then it will turn into an office situation. Do you understand?”
“Yes, I understand,” Sarah affirmed.
Afterward, both girls were given a pass back to class, and that was the end of the Peer Mediation session.
- Click here to read Chapter 5 of 5 – A false rumor about Brittany
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