Restorative Justice: The Answer to Student Conflicts?
Posted on: December 31, 2015 by Aegis General
While punishment models in schools have traditionally included suspension, and even expulsion in extreme cases, a more refined and proactive model is being implemented nationwide. As the gap in academics can have long term adverse effects on a child, the restorative justice model to manage discipline is gaining more and more popularity. While schools work to improve their campus climates, a strong education risk management plan is recommended as part of a Public Sector Liability Insurance Program.
According to the Hechinger Report, the goal of restorative justice is to provide a nonconfrontational forum for students to talk through their problems, address their underlying reasons for their own behaviors, and make amends both to individuals who have been affected as well as to the larger school community. The justice committee, as they are referred, consists of student mediators, school administrators, and teachers who that all work to solve conflict together.
While research has proven to demonstrate the benefits of this disciplinary model, schools have another incentive to follow suit: to avoid unfairly punishing minority students. As it has been found that more black students are suspended than white students, this issue has become a topic of concern. According to Thena Robinson-Mock of the national civil rights organization, claims that this is a significant milestone in education.
What’s more, Robinson-Mock expressed the importance of the program by stating “Students are learning what conflicts resolution really means, as well as critical social-emotional skills. They’re developing empathy for their peers, and building trust and understanding. Those are essential skills that everybody needs.”
The new process is proving its success. For example, students who serve on the justice committee say that participating in the discussion circles has made them better listeners and more thoughtful about their own behavior both in and out of school, says the article.
However, implementing these programs is a complex process. While entire schools have fully adopted the method, some individual teachers are using the strategy, as well. Further, a one day training simply isn’t enough. All of the educators must be on board and enforce the policy consistently so as to build trust and understanding among the teachers and peers.
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