“Last year, I got suspended. And it didn’t work. It only made me more mad.”
The young man sat in a circle with 3 of his peers, his teacher, a youth intern and myself. It was the third and final day of the National Center for Restorative Justice Youth Conference and school teams were using this time to reflect on and
collaborate on an action plan for implementing Restorative Justice in their schools.
He was recounting for us his first-hand experiences with both the punitive system of discipline that is currently most prevalent in US schools (which uses isolation as the primary tactic) and the alternative system of restorative justice that seeks instead to understand the conflict and repair relationships by centering around the idea that humans are hardwired for connection and belonging.