Restorative Justice

What is “Restorative Justice”? According to the Office of the State Superintendent of Education, “Restorative Justice is a culture and set of practices that engage a community in building relationships and repairing harm through mutual, inclusive dialogue, understanding, and cooperation. A whole-school approach to Restorative Justice is more than a set of interventions aimed at students, but rather a way of being that touches all members of the school community and their relationships with each other.”

Suspension Doesn’t Work

Educators have become increasingly aware that punishments such as detention and suspension only aggravate issues like bullying, violence, poor academic performance, and parental apathy. This awareness has prompted the exploration and powerful research of restorative practices to create safe, supportive learning environments.

Researchers have discovered that restorative practices work for students and educators. It’s a win-win!

No More Suspensions—Ever?

Adopting restorative practices doesn’t mean no more suspensions, ever. Even Denver Public Schools’, Dora Moore, North, and Skinner Middle School students still get suspended for serious offenses. But suspensions have decreased as the petty disrespect that escalates into red-faced standoffs, or the squabbles that explode into violence, are often avoided or headed off by restorative practices.

Unfortunately, it has become clear that traditional punishments don’t work to change the root cause of misbehavior or to keep students on a path to college and careers.

“Kick ‘Em Out!”

“When I got here, the culture was to suspend and ‘kick ‘em out of my room,’” says Dora Moore principal, Karen Barker, who had started at Dora Moore five years previously. But she wondered what kids learned from that.

Transforming School Climate

“Responsive Restorative Justice in Education (RJE) practices build responsibility, promote social-emotional growth, and support positive behaviors in schools,” Gregory and Evans write. “However, if an RJE effort does not also address the need for preventative practices to transform school climate, the singular emphasis on behavior management may distort the initiative and preclude the opportunity to promote interconnectedness and well-being.” RJE practices work, but they can work better.

The 5 R's of Restorative Justice Practices

The following are the five Rs of Restorative Justice Practices:

  1. Relationship
  2. Respect
  3. Responsibility
  4. Repair
  5. Reintegration

Please learn more about the exciting evidenced-based work of using Restorative Practices in Schools.