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Defining mediation

December 10, 1991



It was with great expectation that I read the article "Out-of-Court Mediation Takes Off," Nov. 26, covering the growth of mediation in our nation. My organization was formed to carry on the mediation services in Northeast Nebraska under the Nebraska Dispute Resolution Act which was passed in June 1991. The Act provides funds to create statewide Dispute Resolution Centers.In the case of this article, I believe there is a need to clarify what mediation is. The article is not about mediation; rather, it describes what is more correctly defined as arbitration, or the settlement of disputes by an independent third person. Mediation is the process of persons settling their own disputes with the aid of a third party neutral, known as the mediator. The mediator does not decide the issues nor determine the solution. The mediator controls the conflict, guides the persons through a structured process of dispute resolution, which builds trust between the parties, and assists the parties in generating options to reach a realistic agreement to resolve the dispute. This process encourages the parties to take responsibility for the resolution of their own conflict, rather than handing over that responsibility to a judge or arbitrator. Debora Brownyard, Walthill, Neb., Nebraska Justice Center of Walthill

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