Young people often understand the power relationships of schools much better then schools do. When asked to reflect youth are often able to thing beyond “this is how we’ve always done it.” While schools are hesitant and don’t trust new systems.
YES! Magazine had an essay competition. This young woman, Kayla Rice, took one of the prizes. Her analysis can guide schools in avoiding some of the pitfalls of implementation.
I suggest reading it, but here are a couple interesting tidbits.
“After the restorative justice “sessions,” the school took the additional step of separating all of the involved students into different classes. This shows that the school didn’t trust its system of restorative justice,”
The system, as much as the facilitator, is essential. Without a clearly understood and community supported process no one will trust the system and it will be designed to fail.
“You know you’re correctly carrying out restorative Justice when students aren’t afraid to admit what they have done wrong.”
RJ is fundamentally different. If participants don’t understand that the conference isn’t about guilt or innocence they will fall back into their retributive behavior patterns. The idea of actions have harm and this conference/meeting is about how to restore and rebuild relationships is central to functional RJ systems.