What is Restorative Justice?
Restorative Justice (RJ) is a philosophy designed to assist such students by:
- Encouraging them to take responsibility for this and future actions
- Having them take action not just talk about their misbehaviour
- Helping them repair current damage done
- Empowering their victims
- Assisting in bringing about real internal change
Essentially, restorative practices provide an alternative to traditional punitive behaviour management techniques. They emphasise the relationships encompassing students, their families and staff.
Our staff and students have developed numerous practices that attempt to restore good relationships following some conflict. By ensuring that all involved see the effect their actions have had on others, there is a greater chance that they will modify such poor behaviour and bring about transformative change.
Affective statements, affective questioning, circles, life-space interviews and group problem-solving interviews require time. Time to spend talking with students, not to them. Time to explore the affect of their actions, and for them to come to an understanding of this. Having the time to do this is a great challenge.
One high-end strategy is called ‘conferencing’. It involves a meeting between the offender, their victim/s, student and family supporters for both groups and a trained facilitator. All participants recount what happened to them at the time of the incident and hopefully all gain a clear understanding of the full impact and damage done. They then decide what to do to repair relationships and minimise further problems. Agreements are recorded, signed and hopefully acted upon.
Student response to staff usage of the such techniques is more than positive. Students prefer these to traditional methods. As well, anecdotal evidence suggests not only a decrease in poor student behaviour but also a welcome increase in the quality of learning.