“Social media is the world’s worst invention … at least for parents!” This sentiment was expressed by a father of a high school girl in a recent conference I held as the result of a serious assault case referred to Community Conferencing by the court system. His words echoed similar ones that I’ve heard at many conferences over recent years.

Parents are increasingly frustrated that conflicts among kids that used to be restricted to a small circle now get amplified over social media to dozens or even hundreds of kids who enjoy the drama, inflame it, and keep the dispute alive.


Children who wish to just see the cruelty stop often find it inescapable. Even home is no longer a refuge as the insults, profane names, and ridicule are just a click away.

These disputes often build to the point of physical violence and/or significant emotional consequences for one or more of the kids involved.

Parents or school officials often aren’t aware of the serious level of the conflict until it appears to be beyond resolution. The youth have not had any face to face discussion with each other focused on resolving or settling the quarrel, and sometimes don’t even remember how it started. It seems as though most kids in this social media era have not developed the skills to even begin to work on resolving a conflict face to face with another youth.

When these struggles rise to the level of serious school disruption or criminal charges, Community Conferencing in Carroll County is often called upon to assist.

We have been doing this work for the past 6 years. This “new” way of resolving conflicts is actually a return to a very old, traditional approach. We bring the youth and their families, along with anyone else (like school personnel) affected by the conflict, together for a face-to-face meeting.

Departing from a model that is centered in government and embracing a community-centered approach, a conference helps the participants discuss the harm that was done to a person or group, and how those people were affected.

The discussion then focuses on what it would take to “make it right” or to resolve the matter. Of course, the participants also discuss whose responsibility it is to “make it right” or “make it better.”

We have been involved in scores of matters, referred by schools, the courts, and sometimes by individuals involved in conflict themselves.

Through the “magic” of people talking and listening to each other, well over 95 percent of the conferences have ended with a written agreement and often with genuine forgiveness and reconciliation expressed.

Delmas Wood is the program director of Community Conferencing of Carroll County, which is a fund of the Community Foundation of Carroll County, Inc. He may be contacted at delmasw@gmail.com or 443-487-1012.