What is Restorative Justice?
Currently there is a statewide movement to address the ways students are being punished for minor incidents that happen in California public schools. Whether a student refuses to read a passage during an exercise in class or steals another student's iPod, there are ways to positively discipline students without having to suspend or expel them. Restorative Justice offers a way to create a system of accountability and unity amongst all people present in a school setting through the use of community building and relationship repairing circles.
Community building circles allow for students to sit together in a circle and answer questions that reveal themselves to their peers, thus creating relationships based on common experiences.
Relationship repairing circles allow for students to sit in circle with those that caused a harm, were harmed, and those that were indirectly affected by the harm. By understanding that everyone has needs to be met when harm is caused and acting on meeting those needs, relationships can be strengthened and restored.
With almost 83% of youth in Los Angeles identifying as people of color and high suspension and expulsion rates in the Los Angeles Unified School district, it has become supremely important to address the issue of suspensions and expulsions as it directly leads to students dropping out and coming in contact with the criminal justice system.
Have you been involved in a conflict in which Restorative Justice would have helped to heal and build a relationship? If you're an educator, how can Restorative Justice be implemented at your school, and what would its effects be?
Tell us in the Responses tab above.