The only fight that has ever occurred at the PAL Coalition happened during a recent week. Two young men, who both have had trouble controlling their anger, were playing basketball when a lay-up turned into a scuffle. Before staff was able to separate them, both had thrown and landed punches, a kick or two, and exchanged some unkind words.
After some time to calm down, the two agreed to keep their hands to themselves and participate in the PAL Center’s conflict mediation process. Basic steps include each party sharing their understanding of what happened, with the other repeating back what they heard so that everyone is on the same page about what happened. Then both parties work to determine future steps to keep from getting into conflict again.
The conflict medication process was an honest, meaningful interaction where the young men actively listened to each other and worked through what had happened. We have changed their names to protect their confidentiality.
Alan shared that his anger toward Sam had been building for a while because of who Sam had started hanging around. The individuals Sam was spending time with had been a part of a group that broke into Alan’s house several months ago, injuring Alan and his siblings, which was very traumatic.
Alan explained to Sam, “I get very angry about you hanging out with these people because I care about you and I don’t want you to start doing the things those people did to my family.”
Sam responded with, “I really appreciate hearing you say that; it means a lot to me that you care.”
PAL treats every conflict situation case-by-case, and staff tells many trouble-making participants to take a break for a week. Staff didn’t send these two young men home because they were so committed to the process of working through conflict.
There are many pieces in play in both these young men’s lives – people working to help them succeed: family and friends, their school, The Cabbage Patch House, Louisville Metro Justice Department, counseling, PAL volunteers and the many resiliency trainings PAL offers. This moment of intentional processing, caring, and acknowledgement brought together all of the pieces as PAL offered the young men an opportunity to grow.
Increasing resiliency directly affects reducing and preventing drug use among youth. This is but one of the many stories of how the PAL Coalition is working to help youth become more resilient.