Fix School Discipline Toolkit for Educators - Page 31

RESTORATIVE JUSTICE and RESTORATIVE PRACTICES What is it? Restorative Justice (hereinafter used interchangeably with restorative practice), originally used in the justice context and adapted for use in the school context, is a set of principles and practices centered on promoting respect, taking responsibility, and strengthening relationships. Restorative Justice invites a fundamental shift in the way we think about and do justice, from punishing individuals after wrongdoing to repairing harm and preventing its reoccurrence. It is an “alternative to retributive zero-tolerance policies that mandate suspension or expulsion of students from school for a wide variety of misbehaviors” that are not necessarily violent or dangerous. The term “Restorative Practices” is used by a number of practitioners to describe how the concepts of Restorative Justice are then utilized to create systems change in the school system. Hereinafter, Restorative Justice and Restorative Practices are used interchangeably. What are the features of successful Restorative Practices? The core belief of Restorative Practices is that people will make positive changes when those in positions of authority do things with them rather than to them or for them. Therefore, a successful restorative system: Acknowledges that relationships are central to building community Builds systems that address misbehavior and harm in a way that strengthens relationships Focuses on the harm done rather than only on rule breaking Gives voice to the person harmed Engages in collaborative problem solving Empowers change and growth Enhances responsibility How is it different? Restorative Justice changes the way that schools think about student discipline and school climate. Instead of the traditional student-teacheradministration hierarchy, Restorative Justice emphasizes every school members’ responsibility to the school community. Traditional Approach Restorative Approach School rules are broken. People and relationships are harmed. Justice focuses on establishing guilt. Justice identifies needs and responsibility. Accountability = punishment Accountability = understanding impact and repairing harm Justice directed at the offender; the victim is ignored. Offender, victim, and school all have direct roles in the justice process. Rules and intent outweigh whether outcome is positive or negative. Offender is responsible for harmful behavior, repairing harm and working towards positive outcomes. Limited opportunity for expressing remorse or making amends. Opportunity given to make amends and express remorse. 29