Peer Mediators advise families through crisis

Jay Tipirneni, Editor-in-Chief

Our close proximity to family and others that we share close relationships with due to shelter-in-place orders has given rise to new conflicts that may not be receiving as much attention as necessary, which is where Sequoia’s Peer Mediators can help.

The Peer Mediators traditionally help mediate conflicts that would occur during school time, like fights, disagreements, bullying, or any other conflict that may occur between students. They are meant to help resolve and facilitate discussions between conflicting groups to help resolve a common issue.

“If there’s a fight or a conflict amongst friend groups or different groups of people, we would be getting a referral and then either Andrea or one of our peer mediators would help facilitate those conversations,” said Peer Mediator Alicia Siese. “Some scenarios that we have helped mediate are bullying and cyberbullying.”

Peer Mediators have been urging those who may be involved in a conflict to lean towards resolution rather than escalation. This method of relieving conflict can help solve mutual issues or tension between people, especially in repeated incidents between students.

“Stay focused on the present conflict and don’t go back to old ones or start a new one while trying to resolve that one specific conflict that [you’re] going through. Be willing to be open to forgive. Know when to let something go. Compromise. Agree to disagree sometimes. And be aware of your emotions and the way you’re feeling,” said Peer Mediator Andrea Rodriguez-Cruz.

Their approach to this has changed, however, because of the distance learning protocols. The extended periods of time spent with family have shifted their focus from conflict resolution between teenagers to resolution between parents, children, and siblings. This restructured approach still contains the main tenets of Peer Mediation: creating compromise and resolution over escalation. 

“We have been giving tips on how to communicate with people and with their families to not cause a conflict to escalate,” said Rodriguez-Cruz. “It’s how to look at conflict and for students to try to figure it out instead of “being right” or looking at conflict “to be right” or to win something out of it.”

Mediation is especially important when we are being sheltered in place because of the tension that may form between parents and children in particular. Paired with worsening mental health conditions for many, tension may arise to a level that may become abusive or even violent between people, making peer mediation notably necessary for these situations.

“We also want to take a moment to also recognize that sometimes conflict can lead to violence or like somebody feeling unsafe. So we would also want to encourage, if any students are experiencing abuse in the home, to reach out to the San Mateo County CPS hotline,” said Siese. “We want to support students and their families in general if they are not feeling safe.”


If you or anyone you may know may need peer mediation or conflict resolution you can contact them through the TRC at Sequoia or at 650-207-9628.

If you or anyone you know may be facing abuse or domestic violence call the San Mateo County CPS Hotline at 650-802-7922 or the San Mateo County Abuse Hotline 1-800-300-1080. 

If you are interested, you can sign up to become a peer mediator next year by contacting Alicia Siese at [email protected]