Restorative Justice

I offer schools workshops and coaching in implementing successful, research-based restorative justice practices school-wide, in classrooms and as principles used in conflict-resolution by staff members in school communities.

Possible areas of focus:

  • Community circles
  • Small group mediations following a conflict bringing together the harmed student, the person causing the harm, and a group of their peers or adults
  • Affective statements (non-judgmental communication techniques)
  • “I-statements” and emotional vocabulary development

What is Restorative Justice?

Restorative justice practices have been gaining traction in schools across the United States over the last decade as alternatives to traditional discipline and zero tolerance policies. Rather than solely punishing offenders, Restorative justice practices focus on identifying and repairing the harm caused by violation of an agreement or a crime rather than punishing the violator, restoring relationships and trust, and supporting students in becoming accountable and responsible to their actions (Zehr, 1990).

Restorative justice practices are often implemented as an inseparable part of broader Restorative practices in schools, although occasionally the terms are used interchangeably. Restorative practices are based on principles that emphasize the importance of proactively building positive relationships and a sense of community to prevent and address wrongdoing, and involve processes to repair relationships when harm has occurred (Berkowitz, 2016; The Advancement Project, 2014). Restorative justice principles have roots in ancient and indigenous practices followed by cultures across the globe. 

In 2014, The U.S. Federal Government issued new guidelines recommending that schools revise their disciplinary policies to move away from zero tolerance policies and towards Restorative justice practices to foster positive school climates, increase retention and graduation rates, and ensure equity. There are numerous supporting frameworks and models to help implement Restorative justice practices that vary between districts and individual schools. Restorative justice programs are still in the nascent stage of development nationwide. Common hurdles to successful implementation of restorative justice programs include insufficient or irregular professional development and training of staff.