This has been a long time coming. I often reference Brene Brown’s work on Empathy. Most recently at the Northwest Justice Forum. I continue to ask participants if they have heard of her, I constantly get 5 maybe 10 percent; this is unsat. I think Empathy is one of the principle tenants of RJ… Not that we (facilitators) need to be empathetic, but rather we need to create a setting where youthful authors can experience empathy, in the face of conflict, possibly for the first time.
Before we can have a fully formed discussion of what emapthy is and how it works I recommend these 3 videos
And finally something short and light hearted:
Dealing with theft.
The Kitsap Co. DRC in partnership with Kitsap Co Juvenile Court developed a restorative approach to theft. Theft and other “victim-less crimes” have always been a struggle for RJ facilitators. Our work relies on understanding the impact to the victim and community. Without a clear victim it becomes difficult for authors to recognize the impact of their action.
The Kitsap Co. DRC developed a restorative practice that addresses the short comings and is strategic in it’s allocation of resources. With two facilitators and numerous community volunteers the circle is able to address several authors at the same time. This public “taking account” can be restorative. In our first circle, numerous community volunteers (including myself) self-disclosed our own history with theft, decisions we made as youth and the thinking behind those choices. The youth present along with the parents appeared to clearly understand the impact. In traditional circle everyone responds to the same question, while in this circle the facilitators were intentional about what questions where asked to whom and when. Because the talking piece moves around a bit erratically it is essential for the facilitators to have a good grasp on the goal of each question.
Youth are referred to the program through Juvenile Justice Diversion program. This “anti-theft circle” is just one option for youth who have committed a theft and have opted into diversion. If you’re interested in the program or would like support structuring a system in your county/city feel free contact the Restorative Justice Center of the Northwest (here) or the Kitsap Co. DRC.