Restorative Justice in Schools

14 min read
Restorative Justice in Schools


Numerous schools take on the restorative justice to reduce the amount of conflict happening in the premises. The approach focuses on resolving any sort of conflict and restoring peace inside the school. The ultimate goal of the approach is to prevent any sort of harm to the students.

Restorative Justice in Schools

With the help of a restorative approach, the schools enable the victim to convey their hurt to the person who hurt them. It encourages the culprit to accept their mistake and take the right steps to put things right for them.

The approach is applicable on numerous ranges of methods and strategies. Restorative justice in school also prevents relationship-damaging incidents from happening. Moreover, the
out the long-term implications on the matters such as bullying, disruptions and bad behavior of the students. Therefore, restorative justice in school may help overcome certain problems such as bullying, alleviate personal problems and ensure a proper functioning environment.

For better efficiency and decent implementation results, a school needs to implement it all across the school.

What is Restorative Justice in Schools?

A restorative justice approach focuses on developing aspects such as mediation and agreement rather than punishing the students. It encourages the offenders to accept the responsibility for their decision and make peace with the victim. Many communities in the past have used this particular justice system successfully. Moreover, certain countries have also implemented this strategy into their justice systems and foresaw effective results.

Seeing an avid increase in the students misbehaving, the authorities decided to implement restorative justice in school. The schools also saw a considerable amount of improvement in terms of decrease in suspension and bullying.

Experts have avidly commented on this phenomenon, they say “The typical response to bad behavior is punishment. Restorative justice resolves disciplinary problems in a cooperative and constructive way” This helps us determine the numerous benefits of restorative justice in schools.

What is Restorative Justice in Schools

The Three Tiers of Restorative Justice in Schools

Usually, the implementation of restorative justice in school is divided into three different aspects. They include Prevention, Intervention and Reintegration. Each aspect deals with different conditions and phases of a restorative system. Most of the schools that have implemented this system adopt these three tiers since it ensures a seamless educational environment.

Tier 1- Prevention

The first attempt for any school to implement a restorative system should be prevention. Once the community has built a preventive measure, it will help the kids open up about their problems such as their fears and goals. The teachers help the students in providing a better environment where the students can share their thoughts and feelings in a better way.

As a result of these circles, the teachers are able to closely listen to the school children and may help them solve any issues they are facing. The circles are an indigenous practice which value inclusiveness and assist in creating a strong community. The students may share the things such as their bullying problems or other issues they face in class.

The children also get to share their problems with their peers and spend quality time together that focuses on their problems and helps them improve their communication skills too.

Mostly, the teachers also lay out a contract at the start of a new class which focuses on creating a respect agreement. Each student need to be accountable and need to abide by the contract. Many teachers and educational experts have emphasized on the need for contract to tackle these issues.

With the help of a contract, the students become more accountable for their actions and take caution before doing anything that might hurt their peers. They often use the contract as instructions and abide by it. It prevents the changes of bullying and creates a healthy and effective environment.

Tier 1- Prevention

Tier 2- Intervention

Another important aspect of implementing restorative justice at school is through the intervention. This tier of the system comes into play whenever a student breaks the rule and cause harm to someone else. In this stage, all the punishments are dissolved and mediation is adopted. At this stage, the offending student is given a chance to explain the circumstances and once proven guilty, needs to apologize to the victim.

With the help of discussions and creating a dialogue, the issue is solved between the parties and hence they come back to good terms. There will be talks over how they can make it right and ensure that even the stakeholders such as parents are satisfied with the end result.

Given the intervention and talks, eventually the parties will come to a solution which will prove to be helpful for everyone.

Tier 2- Intervention

Tier 3- Reintegration

The last tier deals with the students who have been out of the school for problems such as suspensions, truancy and expulsion. With the help of restorative justice in school, these students are given a chance to integrate them back to the system.

For many of these students, returning to the school life can prove be a difficult task since these children might feel embarrassed and shameful over what happened.

But with the help of restorative justice in school, a protected environment is ensured for these individuals which enable them to fit it quite well.

Tier 3- Reintegration

Social Skills and Restorative Justice in School

Social Skills and Restorative Justice in School

There are plenty of things that children can achieve through restoration programs in school. It improves their ability in opening up about a certain problem to the teachers. It may prove to be in integral skill for the children to develop and focus on. Moreover, it also teaches the students how they can resolve the conflict themselves and create dialogue between one another.

These skills would immensely lower the rate of violence and may help them develop critical thinking skills. Meanwhile the quality circles will also help them in developing the communication skills which are mandatory for their future.

Restorative Justice in Addresses Children Concerns

One of the key elements in popularization of the restorative system is that it directly addresses the children concerns and ensures that it is dealt with promptly. Since the systems help them in sharing their problems, the teacher can get to know different issues they are facing.

For instance, bullying and its overall may have caused a bad impact on their health. Moreover, the children might share other traumas which may include personal tragedies or incidents outside of school. The restorative technique can help them in opening up to the teachers and seek help from someone senior.

Benefits of Restorative Justice in School

While at first, the overall implementation of the system may prove to be hard. It requires avid time, dedication and investment of resources to show its true potential. However, many teachers and experts have identified that restorative justice in school possesses the benefits that outweighs the work. Let’s take a look at few down below:

1.     Improved Children Behavior

One of the important aspects for a teacher is a well-behaved class and abiding students. With the help of restorative justice, the teachers can ensure discipline. The system ensures that the students have great relationship with each other and are friendly.

 As a whole, it results in a disciplined class and ultimately, less stress for the teachers. Moreover, the implementation can also improve the communication and relationship with the teachers.

2.     More Time for Teaching

Ultimately, the teachers will have more time to teach rather than focusing on disciplining the students. With better discipline and attitude, the teachers do not need to spend more time investigating who did what? Since the students become more responsible and disciplined, there is a lesser need for maintaining the temperament and investigating what happened.

3.     Better Environment for Students

Many statistics and results show that restorative justice in schools can bring plenty of benefits for the students as well. For instance, the students can work closely together and learn. This also prevents the rising number of detentions and expulsions for bad behavior.

When comparing to the traditional system, the restorative system is much better. The traditional system punishes the student in ways such as detentions and expels which may hinder the overall progress of the students. The restorative justice system in schools tackles this issue and gives equal opportunities to all, regardless of the circumstances.

Better Environment for Students

Drawbacks of Restorative Justice in School

The restorative justice system may not show the potential results if it lacks any effort in implementation. Therefore, it requires utmost attention from all parties to show any significant progress and improve the overall system for all the parties involved.

In number of occasions, there have been cases where the offenders did not accept the mistake altogether. Also the cases when the offenders showed no responsibility what so ever. In these circumstances, the educational institute may not be able to do anything meaningful to take action. And if the offender is not guilty, the whole purpose of the restorative justice is lost.

Apart from the practical problems, some of the schools may not have the money and resources to implement the system fully. It may require plenty of money from the state or the school’s private funds to set up the program. Even if the schools have the resources, at times they lack the knowledge to implement the restorative program in their efforts to lower the bad behavior.

There is also a major issue of lack of training surrounding the phenomena. In numerous occasions, the school and institutes is full ready for implementation but requires lack of learning material to translate it into practice. Moreover, the teachers are often overworked and may not be able to take on additional requirements such as solving the children problems and hearing them out.

Drawbacks of Restorative Justice in School

Ways to Implement Restorative Practices in Education

As the advantages of implementing restorative practices continue to grow, there is a rising demand in school for the ways they can implement them into classrooms. They can adopt the following techniques for optimum integration that improve the overall results.

1.     Establish Classroom Norms

The first and foremost aspect of establishing a restorative practice is through setting the norms and rules in the classroom. As we mentioned before, a teacher can create a contract and make rules with the help of student participation. For instance, good behavior will be rewarded meanwhile a bad behavior will have some negative effects.

2.     Engaging in Conversations

The main element of restorative implementation is to help the pupil get better at communicating and haring their problems. When a teacher will adopt restorative approach to conversations, they can offer them better ways to deal with the problem. A teacher should create a platform that nurtures and addresses the need for a sensitive conversation.

Questions such as “Who else is affected by your actions?” and “Why are you feeling this way?” can help the students share things that are private and personal. It will prove to be a platform which will help establish trust and communication among the peers. Moreover, it can also help them in knowing how they can correct their misbehavior and solve the problems on their own.

3.     Building a Community

Schools can also focus on building a community which may help in developing transparency and accountability in terms of ensuring responsible decision-making. A school can find different constructive ways to build a community and enable growth.

It will also help the students in determining ways to fix mistakes from their end. By building a community, the school can focus on uniting the students rather than dividing them. It will also help in nurturing the troubled children.

Building a Community

Final Thoughts

More and more schools have focused on adopting restorative practices inside their premises. These schools aim to refine their disciplinary measures and other practices that may help them improve the overall education system. These schools can make the trainings and efforts more collaborative and ensure successful community-driven environment. With proper resources and attention, the implementation of the restorative justice in schools may prove to be a game-changer.