Conflict resolution program gears up for new school year

Published: Aug. 1, 2022 at 10:31 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Ahead of the new school year, a conflict resolution program creator said he was excited about changes they’d seen in students since opening permanent offices at certain schools the previous year.

“Since we got the office here, it was 45 days we’ve been here and there’s been no conflict,” Donald Shepherd creator of S.T.R.A.P said.

Shepherd, creator of the conflict resolution program S.T.R.A.P (Stop Throwing Rocks At the Penitentiary) headed into the new school year proud of the success the program had since opening a permanent office at Smith Middle School.

“We service more than 300 students. We have 10 students who police the school. They ensure the school is safe and look out for conflicts we can help resolve,” Shepherd said.

Shepherd explained the program included one-on-one counseling, group sessions and seminars to teach students how to avoid using violence to settle their differences.

“A lot of the issues are petty. ‘You stepped on my brand new shoes. My mama just bought me the shoes. Oh, I can’t use your phone.’ Just petty stuff. Simple things that people would never think would turn into a fight,” Shepherd said.

The program targets middle school-aged children because Shepperd said that is the best way to save lives.

“If we don’t prepare them now in middle school they are not going to be prepared to complete high school. So we have to target them in middle school because that is the threshold,” he said.

S.T.R.A.P also has an office at Wenonah High School and does work at Jones Valley regularly as well. Sheppard said he will continue visiting as many Birmingham City Schools as time allows.

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