Restorative Justice In School by Grace Pirez
While many schools opt for the use of punitive justice, more and more schools are shifting toward a new method of addressing bad behavior: restorative justice. Instead of focusing on punishment, restorative justice seeks to facilitate communication between “problem” students and their peers. Students have opportunities to confront the consequences of their actions and find and fix the root of the problem. By teaching students how their actions can negatively affect others, schools can prevent future conflicts. In contrast, punishing students after they have transgressed would not help address the root of the problem and would only hurt the student.
Restorative justice is a step in the right direction—and the results show it. For example, Oakland Unified School District began utilizing a restorative justice system in 2007 and has since seen reductions in suspensions and increased attendance. [Learn more]
Students, no matter how old, deserve to be treated with decency. They deserve a voice, and restorative justice can give them the platform they need. From young kindergarteners to high school seniors, everyone can benefit from communication. The students who are normally ignored because of their tempestuous or rambunctious behaviors are given an equal opportunity to speak— something rarely afforded to those whom teachers have labeled ”trouble makers.” It is time to let the students learn from their mistakes instead of mindlessly punishing them for atypical behavior. Help make a real difference by supporting restorative justice in schools.