Atten Schools! Violence prevention and conflict resolution solutions that work!

The Saturday Pioneer Press, front page story: Friend Me, Fight Me.  Short version, issues outside of school, erupted at school and a Mother is very, very upset.

I shake my head.  I get confused.  My google alert for ‘Restorative Practices’ has changed over time.  In the last year the references have moved from dental and yoga articles, to articles about Restorative Justice methods in schools.  The philosophy is generally the same.  As a movement “practices” emerged for schools and  “justice” stayed for community or system services.  I maintain what I do as School-based Restorative Justice.  There is a quote about peace & justice, that for me, justifies the word justice when working in schools.

Here is why, well implemented Restorative Justice would have helped in the ‘Friend Me, Fight Me’ situation.

1.) Prevention – building up the climate and culture of your school, prevents violence.  Isolating grade levels, dividing students out creates “us” and “them”.  By hosting Circle in a school, students get to know each other.  The more you know about someone the less likely you are to hurt them.  What is it . . . an ounce of prevention is more than a pound of cure.  This is where teachers push back on the trainer . . . time, we don’t have time.  I train them, you can select how you use your time.  Use community building circles as part of academic delivery!  Teach in Circle, if kids feel safe, they learn more!  Test scores can increase by using school-based restorative justice!  I suspect the ‘Friend Me, Fight Me’ could have been avoided in an environment where violence prevention was emphasized and implemented WELL.

2.)Values/Citizenship – when schools or communities create more rules, then people focus on how to not get caught breaking that rule.  Students need to learn how they are impacting people.  You need to teach them to listen, in order to teach empathy.  The ‘Friend Me, Fight Me’ story is a great example.  The students thought about having it at school, so teachers would break it up!  Students are aware of where they can have behaviors so they will get caught or not.  School-based Restorative Justice teaches and informs you of how important who you are is.  By acknowledging that everyone is a social, emotional, mental and spiritual being we allow space for non-judgemental self-expression.  Students no longer have to “prove” themselves, because they are being heard.  Most of the “proving” is to identify with a negative culture, because unfortunately, we have a lot of work to do on our climate and culture.   Young men defend their “honor” and when taunted to fight, rather than be accepted for who they are  . . . ‘Friend Me, Fight Me’

3.)Inclusion – School-based Restorative Justice, had it been in place (and been implemented well)  for ‘Friend Me, Fight Me’ would have resulted in a conflict resolution that involved those most impacted.  In the photo the Mom is standing over her son.  She would have been involved in the process to repair the harm.  She would have been given a ‘say’ about what needed to happen.  The support people around each student would have been given opportunity to share their voices.  Students who have authored a harmful act, hear from the direct target and BYSTANDERS, which is so very important.

4.)Solution focused – None of us can change the past.  Understanding why someone did something is important to move ahead.  Operating, in the moment to respond and repair things, and then moving to the future and making agreements and commitments is part of school-based restorative justice.  I just wonder if this type of method, vs the formal suspension, expulsion could have prevented the front page splash for Anoka School District.   I can hear the push back . . . students need discipline.  Yes, they do.   Restorative discipline does not mean a “time out” doesn’t happen, it means it is done in a manner that includes those most impacted, focusing on accountability and healing. 

It is a shift to turn matters over to Circles and accept the outcomes they create.  From seeing more and more things in the paper about schools and bullying, schools and social media, schools and violence, I continue to advocate for Restorative Practices, School-Based Restorative Justice, Restorative Measures, what ever you call it if it is the philosophy and it is done well.  Amen.

As a side, this mornings Google Alert gave me lots of hope, of the 10 results only 2 were not about Restorative Justice!  Here are the results:

News4 new results for restorative practices
Conflict resolution tool coming to schools
Boulder DA: Police should step back from school discipline
Daily Camera
“We definitely have a restorative practices philosophy to all of our discipline,” said Michele DeBerry, director of athletics, activities, attendance and …

MPS honors prosecutor for restorative justice efforts
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
MPS now enjoys an army of restorative practices advocates,”

Justice, community and discipline in Oakland schools (Community …
Oakland Local
According to Barbara McClung of OUSD’s Complementary Learning

Blogs4 new results for restorative practices
Sacrament of Reconciliation and Restorative Justice | Theology as …
By Jacques Haers
Theology as a Process –

What is Restorative Yoga? | Yoga Matrika

Restorative Circles: Justice without Classism
By Jerry Koch-Gonzalez
This alternative justice system exists in a variety of forms knows as restorative justice and restorative practices.

Class Action – –
‘Restorative Justice’ School Program Reduces Student Delinquency
Shared by Yvette Vignando – The International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP) provides education, consulting and research supporting the ……/med