Today, hundreds of children and young people are launching their youth-led FRED campaign with the support of the Restorative Justice for All (RJ4All) International Institute, an non-profit NGO set up to disseminate power within society. FRED aims to improve the lives of children and young people, enforcing the restorative justice values of Fairness – Respect – Equality – Dignity (FRED).
Fumie Izaki of Erasmus+ UK National Agency said: “We are delighted to support young people to carry out this SolidarityProject, co-funded by the European Solidarity Corps. By aiming to enhance community cohesion and launching the campaign, these participants can have their voices heard and make a difference in their local area, while building skills such as project management, communication and research.”
Dr. Theo Gavrielides, RJ4All Founder & Director said: “We are delighted to support this youth-led campaign, which finds its origin in young people’s determination to tackle some of the challenges of today’s society, such as the increase of divisions and inequalities. Spreading the principles of restorative justice, the campaign aims at celebrating diversity, as a great strength that brings us together”.
The campaign will generate thousands of high-quality volunteering opportunities through social action. It aims to create a youth movement for change from the bottom-up. The website of the campaign is officially launched today with youth- led blogs, material and unique youth opportunities for accredited training and campaigning.
Annual Youth Awards are also planned to celebrate FRED young people’s achievements and to raise awareness on current issues that matter to them. The 2020 FRED Youth Awards are titled ‘Sailing the Mayflower to Equality and
Justice’ and are themed after next year’s 400 commemoration of the sailing of the Mayflower from RJ4All’s local area, Rotherhithe. The 2020 Awards are supported by the Mayflower 400 Fund, an initiative by the United St. Saviour Charity, Southwark Council and British Land. This voluntary youth project is also supported by the European Solidarity Corps (ESC), and is led by a Youth Management Board.
Harriet, a FRED young volunteer said: “I am so happy I got the opportunity to volunteer for this project! This has definitely changed everything for me and to think that so many people are benefitting from these activities is crazy to me, and to think that I am able to open doors to young people to become the best version of themselves”.
Nick Johnson, Liberal Democrat Councillor, Surrey Docks Ward – Southwark Council said: “The FRED campaign is a testament of our young peoples’ determination for a change. We often blame them for apathy, but this youth-led initiative proves the opposite. I am delighted to support FRED and look forward to the 2020 FRED Awards celebrating 400 years since the sailing of the Mayflower from our local area, taking some of the first migrants to America”.
Submissions are now open. At the end of the contest, prizes will be given to the most inspiring pieces of work for each of the four categories in the contest: visual arts, performing arts, writing and community. To express your interest email email@example.com or register at http://www.fredcampaign.org/awards-2020/
Matthew Allgood of the United St Saviour’s Charity Southwark said: “The Southwark Mayflower 400 Fund is proud to support RJ4All’s commemoration of the Mayflower voyage through a public competition for children and young people in SE16.”
Notes to Editors
Restorative Justice for All: www.rj4all.info
• FRED campaign: http://www.fredcampaign.org
• About the European Solidarity Corps The European Solidarity Corps is a European Union initiative, which funds opportunities for young people to volunteer or work in projects in their own country or abroad benefitting communities and people around Europe. It has a proposed overall budget of €375.6 million until 2020. Young people from 18 to 30 years old can have the opportunity to engage with projects that make a difference while learning new skills and receiving some financial support. In the UK, the European Solidarity Corps is implemented by the Erasmus+ National Agency, a partnership between the British Council and Ecorys UK.
For more information visit: http://www.eusolidaritycorps.org.uk. For questions about the programme, please contact the European Solidarity Corps team at firstname.lastname@example.org
How we make peace with negative events
There are a variety of ways we cope with events and eventually make peace with them. For the sake of this blog, I want to discuss what some of these mechanisms of coping and acceptance may include. It has been argued that positive emotions help to buffer against stress1. In this sense, positivity itself can be a coping mechanism, but being in the presence of friends has also been found in these three tests to have a similarly buffering effect2.
Therefore, I argue that having good social support and a more positively-oriented mind can help stabilise people in the face of bad events. However, I have still not explained what exactly the mental processes of people are when coming to terms with bad events.
In regard to PTSD, “social support” is not the only factor in helping symptoms of PTSD to decline: “cognitive restructuring” and “expressed emotion” also contribute towards achieving this3. Based on this, we can come terms with past events through having support from their social circle, restructuring their thought processes (which can include therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), and by expressing how we feel. It is not just a matter of having personal and interpersonal structures in place to buffer against negative events, but also having them after the event to sustain the recovery. Bearing this in mind, it to us becomes clearer how restorative justice can potentially help people to make peace with these past experiences.
How restorative justice can help facilitate these processes
Now, this is where restorative justice comes in, and what I find so interesting about it: it is this ability to help people make amends and move on. Not just the victims, but the offenders too. The main focus of restorative justice is on “healing the victim and healing the community at large”4, which is done through a variety of ways, including victim-offender mediation, healing circles, family group conferencing, and reparative councils. A running theme among all of these different processes is the focus on including the local community, with both the offenders and the victims of these crimes being brought together in these specific social contexts to initiate a healing process. As I already outlined, being supported on a social level helps people in making peace with negative or traumatic events.
One example of a context where RJ has been theorised as being useful in is in bullying within schools. Bullying has a negative impact on the school community as a whole, children who are bullied do not always overcome the traumas of it and bullies themselves often come from dysfunctional homes with negative role models that they reproduce5. Therefore, bullying is a problem that not only has negative repercussions for the individuals involved, but also for the whole community overall. This is where restorative justice can come in. In the case of two Year Nine students at Passmores Academy, restorative justice led to them going from having a “love-hate relationship” to having “their arms around each other crying”, as they shouted at their dads who were about to have a fight6; restorative justice helped them make amends and move forward, even if their dads did not feel the same way
On the other hand, restorative justice does not always work as intended. There are three key challenges to properly implementing restorative justice in bullying: the first involves convincing the victim that this is the right thing as otherwise they will feel that the bully’s actions are being justified, and the second is that teachers involved need to keep their feelings to themselves as not being impartial could exacerbate the issue7. Restorative justice is a delicate process that can easily be upset by biases towards either given party. Furthermore, in the Passmore Academy case, the fathers evidently felt the issue was not completely resolved, which shows how even when restorative justice seems to have gone well some of us may still not feel ready to move forward after it.
My final thoughts
Is there something that can be learned from restorative justice and the process of moving on? I believe there is, and I have illustrated this by looking at bullying as an example. Four factors that contribute to bullying include negative attitudes towards the child being bullied by carers, enabling attitudes towards aggressiveness, bullies experiencing authoritarian parenting styles, and them having natural tendencies towards being arrogant8, and restorative justice can bring all these issues to light. However, we should still remember that it is a delicate process, and any unfair biases towards any of the given parties will render it significantly less effective. If it is to be used in these cases, it should be ensured that the mediators have no bias towards either the bully or the victim.
And if you feel convinced by Restorative Justice as an alternative, then why not join RJ4All as a volunteer or as paid Associate? You can not only learn more about what is going on in the world of Restorative Justice but also contribute to a cause that will hopefully allow more people to move forward from the past. And if you want to read more about how positive psychology can improve restorative practices, then take a look at RJ4All’s project on Positive Psychology and Restorative Justice to learn more about this.
Aidan Chase-McCarthy is an intern at Restorative Justice for All (RJ4All).
To join RJ4All or to support its cause including volunteers such as Aidan click here
1 – Folkman, S., Moskowitz, J. T., 2000. “Positive affect and the other side of coping”. American Psychologist, 55 (6): 647-654.
2 – Adams, R. E., Santo, J. S., Bukowski, W. M., 2011. The Presence of a Best Friend Buffers the Effects of Negative Experiences. Psychology Faculty Publications, 47 (6): 1786-1791. Available at: https://digitalcommons.unomaha.edu/psychfacpub/37/?utm_source=digitalcommons.unomaha.edu%2Fpsychfacpub%2F37&utm_medium=PDF&utm_campaign=PDFCoverPages
3 – Gutner, C. A, Rizvi, S. L., Monson, C. M., Resick, P. A., 2006. Changes in Coping Strategies, Relationship to the Perpetrator, and Posttraumatic Distress in Female Crime Victims. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 19 (6), p. 7. doi:10.1002/jts.20158.
4 – Condon, M., 2010. “Bruise of a Different Color: The Possibilities of Restorative Justice for Minority Victims of Domestic Violence”. Georgetown Journal on Poverty Law & Policy, 17 (3), p. 495.
5 – Grossi, P. K., Mendes dos Santos, A., 2012. “Bulling in Brazilian Schools and Restorative Practices”. Canadian Journal of Education, 35 (1): 120-136.
6 – Goddard, V., 2012. “Vic Goddard: bullying, restorative justice and teenage girls”. The Guardian. November 13th. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/teacher-blog/2012/nov/13/bullying-school-restorative-justice-teeenage.
7 – Smith, R., 2016. “IS RESTORATIVE JUSTICE THE RIGHT APPROACH TO BULLYING?” The Educator. November 17th. Available at: https://www.theeducator.com/blog/restorative-justice-right-approach-bullying/.
Today, many schools are using a more punitive measure to control misbehaviour or conflict among students or between students and teachers. In advance of RJ4All Publications forthcoming edited collection “Restorative Justice in Educational Settings & Policies: Bridging the East & West”, I took time to reflect on the implementation of restorative justice in schools.
I argue that schools’ punitive measures are the result of the introduction of “zero tolerance” policies since the early 1990s. As a result of this policy, expulsion and suspension increased, and that has led to the expansion of the “school to prison pipeline” seen across many schools around the world. Such exclusionary policies have devastating effects on the student because they disturb their training for society and we end up with emotionally and socially stunted students who find it hard to fit in society after their school years. I believe that socialbonds and a senseof belonging aredefining factors as to whether a person is a decent human being or not. This article argues that schools are a direct pipeline to society and that restorative schools ensurethat what comes out of that pipeline will help build a better society. If schools were to encourage their student to practice good values and ensure healthy relationships in the wider school community. We will get back into society decent human beings who might be influential leaders that promote, equality and social cohesion in all spheres of society. To get my argument across I will first discuss the role of schoolsin the lives of its students. Secondly, I will briefly discuss restorative justice and its movement to educational settings, and also, touch on the differences between schools that use restorative practices and restorative schools. Lastly, I will discuss the impact that restorative schools have on students.
Traditionally, schools have always seen themselves as strictly providing academic training and have nothing to do with emotional and social intelligence (Marshall, 2018). By neglecting the emotional and social growth of their students, schools became more and more obsessed with maintaining order and started to rely onpunitive measures for punishment. Since the 1990s the US has been dominated by the philosophy of zero tolerance when it comes to school discipline. The term was originally developedas an approach to drug enforcement (Skiba & Rausch, 2006), the term became widely accepted in the 1990s. The policy determined consequences to misbehavior which were punitive in nature, and the policy was applied regardless of the gravity or the nature of the misbehavior (APA, 2008). Untastefully, schoolshave to do whatever means necessary to maintain a safe and disciplined environment (Ibid).
Punishment is meant to teach a good lesson that actions have consequences, and those consequences are not desired. But does punishment reallywork? And at what cost? Punishment neglects the emotional and social intelligence that students need to come to terms with their own emotions and the emotions of those around them. As a result, they end up not being able to manage conflicts with others,andthey constantly fail to recognize how their actions affect others and vice versa. The problem with a punitive measure as a disciplineis that it is stigmatizing, leaving students feeling like outcasts (Marshall, 2018). Moreover, stigmatized students tendto get more in trouble with the law hence, the school to prison pipeline. Punishment does not address the root cause of misbehavior, itstirs up fear in students while it remains ineffective. The problem with punishment is that, when it doesnot work, schools tend to up the dosage instead of finding alternative solutions to behavior (Blood & Thorsbone, 2005). Unlike rehabilitative measures, punishment fails to address the needs of the victim of school misconduct (Suvall, 2009). One know measure becoming popular to schools is restorative justice.
Restorative justice offers students a possibility to a restorative approach to their misdemeanors. Moreover, restorative justice proposes inclusiveness to the school community, giving students a sense of belonging and a feeling of being part of a social structure. The scope of restorative justice expands way beyond responses to criminal offending to include a wide range of conflict resolution, decision-making, and community building activities (Marshall, 2018). There is an abundance of literatureon the effectiveness of restorative justice in educational settings, and its effectiveness is no longer in question. Meanwhile, restorative practices focused only on reactive responses to misbehavior has limited effectiveness on achieving change (Blood & Thorsbone, 2005). Therefore, applying restorative practices to the wider school culture is most effective because students get to internalize the norms and values and, as a consequence, rendering positive social change.
To dive deeper into the advantages of restorative justice at schools, this article will first discuss the role of the school in the lives of students. After that, restorative justice and its movement to education settings will be discussed. Here also the difference between restorative schools and schools that use restorative justice will be outlined. Lastly, the article will discuss the impact that restorative schools have on students.
The role of the school
A school is more than just a place parents send theirkids to obtain an education. School is a big communal environment where students and teachers daily interact with one another (Marshall, 2018). With such interaction,lifetimerelationships are built. Therefore, schools are social systems and they are created and controlled to enable students to become effective in any life situation in which they must participate in (Jensen, 1954). A school exist to prepare students for adult roles; it isa place where society transform its members into well-adjusted functioning citizens (Bozkus, 2014). The natural outcome of this social system is thatindividuals interact, share values, beliefs, andhabits, and gain an identity as a group (Ibid). Unfortunately, a lot of schools see their role as providing academic training and neglect the emotionalsocial intelligence of theirstudents (Marshall, 2018).
The school is characterized by structure and by norms/culture (Willower & Carr, 1995). Simplydefined, culture refers to “the way we do things around here” (Simpson, 2004). Culture is the core of the social system/organization, and it is present in the school community. Culture significantly affects behavior by establishing a commitmentto shared norms and values among individuals (Bezkus, 2014). Therefore, schools play animportant role in social change. Marshall (2018) in his online course mentions thatthere is a direct link from schools to households and families from which the students come, and this affects their attitude on how they view their parents. He goes on to say that there is also a direct link from school to the workplace or any community association that students go to after their education (ibid), with this, what student learn in school, and the culture and values of the school reflectin many areas of the civil society. In one way or another, everyone is affected bytheir school experiences, and those experiences follow us to society and into the workplace, and that indirectly determines social change.
An approach rooted in the values of restorative justice is a better alternative to punitive discipline measures (Suvall, 2009). Schools have a significant effect on students, andtheir school experiences affect their attitude later in life. Thismakes schools the perfect place for restorative initiatives to take place. Restorative justice is an approach to problem-solvingbased on the idea that when crime/wrongdoing occurs, the focus is on repairing the harm done to people and mending the broken relationships. Restorative justice is of the idea that, when harm is doneto someone, it created obligations and liabilities. As a result, the way forward involves the offender, the victim and the community in efforts to heal the harm and put things right (Zehr &Mika, 2003). It is called restorative because it seeks restorative outcomes for all parties involved (Marshall, 2018). Restorative justice is rooted in values, and those values are always consideredwhen applying its principles. Among others, restorative justice values includerespect, solidarity, participation, active responsibility, honest dialogue, accountability, and empowerment.
Restorative justice in schools came as a way to introduce new measures of dealing with misbehavior at school. Thisgrew as more and more as people because concerned about the school to prison pipeline as a result of expulsion and suspensions from schools which excluded rule-breakers from the community and labeling them as outcasts. The emergence of restorative justice in educational settings has flourished since the first school-basedconference was heldin a Queensland (Australia) school in 199 (Blood & Thorsbone, 2005). As restorative justice moved more and more into other social expects of the community(work or school), it changed to be called restorative practices todistinguish it from that used in a criminalmatter by the justice system. Restorative practices are definedas practices of not only relationship, but building the relationship, feeding the relationship, strengthening the relationship and, also, mending the relationship when some things go awry (Marshall, 2018). Moreover, practitioners, usually use the term restorative practices when they use the principles and values of restorative justice (IPR, 2019). Restorative practices helpsminimizingrule breaking and misbehavior/conflict among students and teachers. With this, students get to thrive in an environment suitable for the development of healthy relationships (Blood & Thorsbone, 2005).
Employing restorative practices at school to deal with rule-breaking or misbehavior, or to mend broken relationships is different from a restorative school. Unlike using restorative practices to solve misbehavior or to react to a broken rule, restorative schools use restorative practices in the whole foundation of the school way before they are needed to deal with conflict, and not just as a reaction to undesired behavior. Not that using restorative practices in reaction to rule-breaking is wrong or insufficient, it’s just that restorative schools goanextra mile with restorative practices. The term restorative school thusmeans that the school uses a restorative form of discipline when dealing with misbehavior instead of suspending or expelling students. Furthermore, in some cases, restorative schools display a commitment to a restorative climate throughout the whole school community (Payne & Welch, 2013). They put efforts to promote a climate where students and teachers respect one another; itgives students a sense of belonging regardless of misbehavior. A restorative school uses circles to develop positive connections between students by involving the whole-m school in activities that aim to develop positive relationships and improves students’ social and emotional growth (Marshal, 2018).
Afterhealthy relationships are built, a restorative school aims to maintain those relationships by encouraging students to engage in a wide range of activities that promote respect and solidarity. Therefore, if a school employs restorative practices to resolve conflict and repair broken relationships, it is important that they think about the wayto maintain such a relationship. Restorative practice “involves reallytransforming the culture of a place, building relationshipsand having those relationships that lead to the ability to trust each other and hold each other accountable” (Ward, 2014. p2). Restorative practices at school focusmainly on building healthy relationships and repairing any harm causedby the acts of misbehavior (Payne & Welch, 2013). Student misbehavior is then viewedas a violation of a relationship and not a mare breaking of a rule. Therefore, in order tomend the broken relationship, the offender and the student whose trust has been violatedneed to reconcile through honestdialogue. Restorative values are the core and priority of a restorative school. In a restorative school, students in a class get together to decide on the class rules, andthen they collectively take ownership of those rules or established norms.
A restorative school starts with the principles of restorative justice from the beginning of the year as students come to school. From the first day,they have a circle meeting. Students get to have a say in how the school community runs. The school takes on board what students want for their community. Parents are active participants in school activities, and the school constantly have activities that teach restorative values.
Restorative schools’ students
In a restorative school, teachers have a good relationship with the parents of its student as well as school management. A restorative school empowers its students to develop healthy and meaningful relationships with one another. The relationships they develop don’t end at school, they take them to society andthey fosterrespect of each other even when they meet in the street after school hours. Thisdoes not mean that these healthy relationships they develop won’t come under stress, but because they are builton a foundation of strong norms and values,when conflict rises among students, the problem is not dealt with in a top-down manner like it’s donein traditional schools. In a restorative school, students are giventhe opportunity to resolve the conflict on their own, and of course, with the help of a facilitator who monitors the process. Therefore, a restorative school equips its student with social problem-solvingskill, and that helps them grow emotionally through the realization of the harm that their action and the action of others may cause. Repairing the harm causedby conflict/misbehavior further helps students to examine and reflect on the experience and attitudes that have led to the behavior.
Restorative schools help children improve in their education because it looks at the deeper cause of misbehavior, instead of stigmatizing and expelling them from school, it integrates the student into the school community and gives him a sense of belonging and a sense of accountability to the school community. As a consequence, students get to think more and more about the school as a collective system in the sensethat the misbehavior of one person can have effects to others. The restorativeschool implements restorative values to the whole functioning of the school, andthat helps students internalize those positive values which they then take with them to society and totheir workplace. Students become more empathetic with others and far non-judgmental of other people.In a restorative school, students learn that it is normal to desire personal achievement and success, but learn that in so doing, they ought to be careful not harm anyone on their way to success. A restorative school addresses the needs of the victims of misbehavior. It gives a student the opportunity to express their experience of the victimization. It offers support to the offender in positive behavior change (Suvall, 2009).
Punitive school disciplinary measures exclude students from the school community, and exclusion has a devastating effect on students. Punishment fails to address the needs of the victims of school misconduct and neglects the systemic problems that lead to the misbehavior. With the dissatisfaction with the traditional school system when dealing with misbehavior, people learnmore and more toward restorative measures. With restorative practices, we don’t have to worry about endless disputes between student and with teachers, and we won’t have to worry so much about the school to prison pipeline. Students and teacherswould become more reconciliatory in the way we treat one another likedecent human beings. A restorative school assessesthe full extent of the harm that violence can cause within a school, with a deep assessment, students become more sensitive to the harmthey cause. This, compels students to act in ways that doesnot cause harm to others or disrupts the functioning of the school community. With a restorative school, society gets back well-adjusted and functioning people after the school years. This behavior they take to work, andthey become advocates of positive social change and promote societal unity. If we want to change the world, it is important that we work on our future leaders and instill good values that we hope they have as leaders. Changing a traditional school to a restorative one is not without challenges; theteachers and the management will have to be on board with the ides, sometimes parents need to be on board as well. A restorative school provides a promising way to help school communitiesgrow in emotional and social intelligence which will empower students to be able to stand up against anything that does not promote positive social change.
Thandiwe Mncina is an intern at RJ4All
APA (American Psychological Association [Zero tolerance task force]: are zero tolerance policies effective in the schools?: An evidentiary review and recommendation. Retrieved from: http://www/apa.org/pubs/info/reports/zero-tolerance.pdf
Bozkuz, K. (2014). School as a social system. Sakarya university journal of education, 49-61.
Blood, P., & Thorsbone, M. (2005). Embedding restorative practices in schools. International conference on conferencing, circles and other restorative practices. Building global alliance for restorative practices and family empowerment. Sydney Australia, 3-5 March.
IPR (Restorative Justice Practices International). Retrieved from http://rpiassn.org/resources/what-is-restorative-justice/ accessed 07-03-2019
Jansen, G. (1954). The school as a social system. Published by Tailor Francis, 38-46.
Marshall, C, (2018) Is restorative justice applicable in schools? Retrieved from https://courses.edx.org/courses/course-v1:VictoriaX+RJ101x+2T2018/courseware/78a4e5df2eba45d7b7740d593385cc90/87d4cd64bfd345f98054044ecaa2278f/1?activate_block_id=block-v1%3AVictoriaX%2BRJ101x%2B2T2018%2Btype%40vertical%2Bblock%4000ab029596714d2891beba3e00cc9ce6
Simpson, S. (2004) Unwritten ground rules: the way we really do things around here in Barker, C & Coy, R (eds) the power of culture: driving todays organization. McGraw Hill, Australia.
Suvall, C. (2009). Restorative justice in schools: learning from Jena High school. Havard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Review. 44(1) 547-569
Ward, S.F. (2014): Schools start to rethink zero tolerance policies. Retrieved from http://www.abajournal/magazine/article/schools_start_to_rethink_zero_toleracne _policies?utm_source=maestro&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=default-email
Willower, D. &. (1995). the school as a social organization.
Zehr, H. &. (2003). A restorative framework for community justice practice. In K. &. McEvoy, Criminology conflict resolution and restorative justice(pp. 135-152). Basingtoke Hampshire and New York: Palgrave MacMillan.