"We have a reactive and pro-active role," says Sue Klassen, who leads the PIRI group. The pro-active model involves setting up "peace circles" (being tested primarily in Rochester's Monroe High School and School 29) in which students gather periodically to discover values they hold in common and work through grievances before they become more serious. Prevention, Klassen says, is PIRI's first objective.

"On the reactive side, when a crime occurs, we invite people to come into the process," she says. The crime could be a minor act of vandalism, or it could be as serious as homicide. Victims, witnesses, offenders — anyone affected by the crime — are invited to participate. Volunteers meet separately with the players before a conference is held....

....The more safe places we can create, the more places we can offer for people to really hear each other, the stronger the community will be.

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