This article was written by: Noor Etienne-Richards

The ability to vote (freely, equally, and accessibly) is the cornerstone of democracy in the UK. It allows people of all ages, genders, races, and socio-economic backgrounds to have a voice, and contribute to the change they want to see in the society around them.  The more people that vote, the more representative and reflective changes in society and the government will be. Each individual vote gives weight to important societal changes, policies, and laws. It can be the difference between feeling supported by the government or feeling insignificant and alienated by society.  Furthermore, voting redistributes power into the hands of the people, it enables us to hold those ‘at the top’ accountable, and to engage with issues ‘we’ feel are vital, whether that be surrounding climate change, education, human rights, immigration, the economy and much more.  This article was written to promote ‘London Voter Registration Week’ (LVRW) from the 18th-24th September 2023 and aims to highlight the importance of voting, by encouraging everyone to register to vote, especially ‘under-registered and under-represented Londoners’.

Without representative voting, a small minority group is given power to shape society in a way that impacts society. Whether that be positively or negatively – these are the voices that represent us all.  There is a plethora of data that demonstrates a negative relationship between particular social demographics and the number of completed electoral voting registrations and voting rates. This is particularly true in London, which has one of the lowest voter registration rates across the United Kingdom (Mayor of London, 2022). Individuals from ethnic minority groups are slightly less likely to register to vote and to vote, than their White British counterparts. Statistics on the percentage of those who have completed voting registration are 84% for white ethnic groups, and 75% for Black ethnic groups (with Black Africans being the least likely), furthermore, in many South Asian and Chinese ethnic groups, women are significantly less likely to vote than men (Uberoi & Johnston, 2022).  Additionally, individuals living in socio-economically deprived areas are also less likely to register to vote and to vote, which often stems from feelings of isolation from the mainstream political sphere. Some other demographics that have low levels of voter registration include those from LGBTQ+ communities (particularly trans and non-binary individuals) and those who are deaf and disabled.

Young people between the ages of 18-25 are some of the least likely to vote, based on polling data from the general election in 2019, only 54% of young people voted, compared to a much larger, 77% of people aged 65 and over (Uberoi & Johnston, 2022).  Young people (of any race, class, gender, sexual orientation, etc.) specifically have the potential to eliminate, what many academics deem the ‘crisis of representative democracy’ through registering to vote and engaging with the world around them.  A common myth based on the perception of these statistics is that young people are apathetic, indifferent or are just not enthusiastic about politics and society however, this could not be further from the truth. This idea is heavily dependent on how one measures political participation, when purely focused on voting, rates amongst young people are low, however, there is evidence of young people participating politically in other ways such as signing charitable petitions, donating to charity, volunteering and discussing political opinions online (EACEA, 2013). This sends the clear message that young people care about their communities, so why don’t they vote?

A key reason for this is based on these groups often being systematically excluded from politics through poverty, socio-economic marginalisation, and a lack of opportunities for political competence. Therefore, it is important to spread awareness about voting, to gradually remove the many daunting voting barriers in place for many young people and marginalised communities. It can be a complex task to navigate the world of voter registration, questions such as, ‘Am I allowed to vote?’ and ‘How do I register to vote?’ can deter many young people from voting, but all this information can be easily found here  – https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote. Another important reason for low voting levels amongst young people is an intrinsic distrust of the government, and the feeling that even if they did vote, no one would truly listen. Recent data shows that only 23% of people say they trust the government to put the interests of the people first (British Social Attitudes, 2020). Although it is valid to feel this way, not voting can perpetuate a never-ending cycle of marginalisation and isolation. By not voting, important opinions and perspectives are not considered, thus there is the potential for laws and policies to be made which will not consider the impact on everyone in society. Registering to vote marks the beginning of an important journey of speaking out and showing who and what you support and oppose.

At its core, empowering communities is at the heart of democracy. By registering to vote, young people take on the rewarding opportunity to shape and strengthen their community on a political and local level, not only for themselves but for future generations. An interesting study by Settle, Bond and Levitt, found that meaningful connection to one’s community not only shapes a person’s journey through adolescence but also their political participation and has positive implications on one’s role in society (Settle, Bond, & Levitt, 2011).  Thus, this is an incentive for young people to register to vote, not only will you positively shape the world around you, you will also help to create a generation of adolescents who are eager to have a political voice.  The research by Settle et al, also puts a responsibility on us all, to create communities and environments which ensure all under-represented communities feel comfortable and confident in sharing their voice and registering to vote.

 

FRED is a youth-led campaign that aims to enforce the restorative justice values of ‘Fairness – Respect – Equality – Dignity’ (FRED). The FRED campaign supports our vision to build the first restorative justice postcode in SE16 through social action in the form of blogs, campaigning, and providing high-quality volunteering opportunities for young people.

For more information, please go to:

www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/voter-identification-faqs

https://www.gov.uk/how-to-vote/postal-voting

https://www.gov.uk/apply-for-photo-id-voter-authority-certificate

 

British Social Attitudes. (2020). Democracy: Brexit, the pandemic and trust and confidence in government. London: The National Centre for Social Research. Retrieved from British Social Attitudes.

EACEA. (2013). Youth Participation in Democratic Life: Final Report. London: LSE Enterprise Limited.

Mayor of London. (2022). Survey of Londoners 2021-22: Headline findings. London: Greater London Authority.

Settle, J., Bond, R., & Levitt, J. (2011). The Social Origins of Adult Political Behavior. American Politics Research 39(2), 239-263.

Uberoi, E., & Johnston, N. (2022). Political disengagement in the UK: Who is disengaged? House of Commons Library.

 

This article was written by: Lorenzo Izzi

 

In a world in which the entire human knowledge is available from a device in our pocket, the risk of over-simplification is around the corner regarding the news. The main objective of this article is to give an overview of the attempted military coup in Russia by the Wagner group, by giving a holistic explanation of the event. It will therefore start by giving a context to the Wagner group, explaining its origin, its fit into the power structure in Russia, and its role in Russian military operations, including the invasion of Ukraine, and it will create a guide to understand future events as the tension is likely not to stop here.

 

Yevgeny Prigozhin and the Wagner group, origin and goals

Wagner is a self-defined “private military company” (PMC) that acts in close ties with the Kremlin, the building in which the president of Russia resides. However, its private nature gives it a special role in Russian military operations. It is not known precisely when this company started to exist, but its first international appearance was in the first stage of the Ukraine invasion in 2014 (when a dispute over Donbass and Crimea was settled). After that, Wagner is reported to have assisted Russian military operations in Syria, Venezuela and various parts of Africa. Since we don’t know much about the origins of Wagner from the literature, we need to draw on the sanctions imposed by the European Union, in which Wagner’s founder is identified with Dmitry Utkin, “a former Russian soldier adorned with Nazi tattoos” (The Economist”). The economist reports he allegedly named Wagner after Richard Wagner, Adolf Hitler’s favourite composer.

However, as with every project, the Wagner group needed funds and that is where Prigozhin becomes relevant. Prigozhin started his career in the food sector, holding many restaurants and organising diplomatic meals for President Putin and the head of states that visited Russia over time. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, he took advantage of the wave of privatisations that Russia was undertaking to save its real economy and got involved in various businesses in the 90s that granted him a place of power in the Russian economic system. Nonetheless, it is widely believed that the role of Prigozhin in the Wagner Group was very lucrative at the very start, as he managed to take possession of oil fields in Syria and diamond reserves in Africa through Wagner and the involvement of his businesses (The Economist). Various violations of human rights have been reported by the Wagner Group as well, such as violence towards civilians and harassment towards peacekeepers and aid workers (Office of the high commissioner for Human Rights in the United Nations)

 

Wagner and the Russian military

Before putting into context the role of Wagner in Ukraine, and subsequently the causes of the rebellion, it is worth reflecting on the nature of the Russian state very briefly. In fact, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, a few portions of the population took advantage of the political situation and became extremely rich and powerful, including Prigozhin. These groups of people, usually referred to as the Russian oligarchs, therefore control certain sectors of the Russian economy and, as already stated, Prigozhin controls a very big part of the food industry in Russia. Most of these oligarchs want to maintain their wealth for as long as possible and they conveyed that the best way to do so is to support Putin’s regime, providing security in exchange for power. It is vital to understand that the power of Putin’s regime therefore comes from the legitimisation of the oligarchs, and that is why Wagner’s rebellion has been quite noisy in the news, as in the past oligarchs or influential people opposing Putin’s regime have not managed to undertake any concrete action and were often found dead in mysterious circumstances. However, this time Prigozhin, having behind this big network of private militaries and mercenaries who are not the direct dependencies of the Kremlin, and taking advantage of the involvement of the Russian regular army in Ukraine, managed to take control of Rostov-on-Don quite easily and start to move towards Moscow. This historic event in the Russian Federation is already relevant per se, but understanding where this comes from will help us to assess its importance for Russia, Ukraine, NATO and the West as a whole.

Wagner is deeply involved in the war in Ukraine, as it has fought in Bakhmut, determining the outcome of the battle (The Economist). Meduza, a Russian news agency based abroad and opposed to Putin’s government, reports that Wagner has been the most terrifying Russian military division for Ukrainians, as its determination, power and cruelty have been of great problems for the Ukrainian army (Meduza). Therefore, his high involvement in the battlefield in one of the most embarrassing wars for Russia in terms of military losses and outcomes made Prigozhin aware of battlefield issues amongst soldiers that weren’t necessarily clear to the Kremlin, such as the need for ammunition for the Russian military, especially in light of the heroic Ukrainian counter-offensive. Therefore, Prigozhin, which is protected by his private army, started to make some noise in the previous weeks to get what he wanted from the Russian minister of defence. A few days ago, though, what he received was a minefield on his way back to Wagner military camp in Ukraine and allegedly Russian planes striking over Wagner.

Another point to raise is that the Russian army receives orders directly from the minister of defence in Russia, Sergei Shoigu, which at that moment was in Rostov-on-Don; therefore, Prigozhin’s anger was likely directed at Shoigu as well and therefore the main reason why he headed to Rostov was to have his head with his own private military company. In addition to that, Wagner has been ordered to stop being a private military company and to be fully integrated into the Russian army, under the control of Shoigu himself. 

Looking at Prigozhin’s words themselves, it is clear that he was aiming to cut off Shoigu’s power more than anything else as that constitutes a fundamental threat to his control of this PMC and his wealth; however, he never mentioned Putin in his speeches. At this point, while the world was looking at the news to understand what was happening in Moscow, Prigozhin suddenly stopped his move and headed to Belarus after the mediation of the president of Belarus Lukashenko, who somehow managed to convince Wagner to stop there. Although the reasons for this withdrawal are not yet clear, there are some things that this event helped us to understand.

 

Lessons to understand any future event.

The first and most obvious lesson we might derive from this event is that Putin’s regime is weak, as a PMC managed to march within 200km from Moscow practically without any resistance, a dissident oligarch managed to threaten the status quo, and most importantly, he managed to tell Russian people the reality about the war. It is important to understand that, in Russia, information is controlled by the government, and the narratives about the causes of the war are not quite the real ones. 

To justify the war in Ukraine, Putin claimed that NATO and Ukraine were planning an invasion of Russia and therefore by attacking first, the Russian Federation would have made sure that this could have never happened. He also stated that he wanted to de-nazify Ukraine as Russia once managed (during the Soviet Union era), with the biggest “patriotic war”, as it is now called in Russia. However, Prigozhin, the day before the rebellion, released a short video in which he stated that these reasons were lies that high-ranked Russian officials and people in power were telling the world, providing detailed evidence for that. He said that Russia doesn’t believe in the mission of de-Nazifying Ukraine, as Russia released a big number of members of the Azov group (a part of the Ukrainian army that is usually associated with right-wing ideas) in exchange for Medvedchuck, a former Ukrainian pro-Russia MP who was supposed to become the new president of Ukraine if the murder of Zelensky took place. In that video, which was released on the 24th of June 2023, what we can notice is a powerful and influential man, who is somewhat expert on battlefields as well, accusing high-ranked generals and politicians to be “bastards that sent Russians to die because they wanted glory”. Using this rhetoric in Russia is quite unusual and dangerous, and the fact the entire Wagner went away without consequences and that fighting did not take place are all signs of weakness by the Russian state. This means that negotiations had to happen with the mediation of Belarus because Russian elites knew that they were not powerful enough to fight Wagner and the casualties would have been way too high, especially considering the war in Ukraine. The Russian government wouldn’t have had any problem undertaking a bloodshed in the street of Moscow if they thought it was worth it (if we think about the number of casualties amongst the Russian oligarchs that opposed the war in Ukraine we can presume that the Kremlin is not worried about sending killers to murder those who are aligned), therefore the fact that this did not happen and that all charges against Prigozhin were dropped, means that the Russian government is well aware of its weakness.

For Ukraine, this is good news, as it means that with the counter-offensive, which started a few days before the rebellion, and Russian weakness and confusion, they will be able to push back them even more and foster those kinds of rebellions inside Russia even more. As President Zelensky stated, victory for Ukraine means conquering back the entire land that was occupied, but to do so, the strategy is to push back the Russian military and politically, creating discontent. Therefore, the Wagner rebellion might be the first sign that the implemented strategy will be successful in the long term.

 

 

 

Issues of poverty are intersectional; they impact communities in different ways and for different reasons. Research shows that over one third of LGBTIQ+ people living in London face significant financial hardship and lack sufficient financial resources to maintain a suitable standard of living. A report published in 2017 by the London Assembly Health Committee suggests that financial hardship is exacerbated by experiences of discrimination which make it harder for LGBTIQ+ people living in London to earn money, stay financially secure and pursue their goals.

Those who identify as LGBTIQ+ are also more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, paranoia, schizophrenia, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Being LGBTIQ+ doesn’t cause this, but the experiences that many LGBTIQ+ persons face such as homophobia and transphobia make the issues of mental health and poverty more prevalent.

Research also suggests that discrimination against the LGBTIQ+ community increases the chances of homelessness and extreme poverty. Young LGBTIQ+ people currently comprise up to one quarter of the youth homeless population in Britain.  The Albert Kennedy Trust organisation that supports young LGBTIQ+ people, estimated that 150,000 were homeless or at risk of homelessness as a result of intolerance . Stonewall Housing, a London-based organisation which offers specialist advice and support to LGBTIQ+ people, says that two thirds of young people who access their services state their housing problems are directly linked to their sexual orientation or gender identity.

For this reason, solutions to poverty and mental illness need to intersectional; they need to take into account the sexual orientations and gender identities of those who are in need of help. The government seems to be taking this position more seriously, with the Equalities Office conducting research to help better understand LGBTIQ+ people’s experiences of homelessness, the challenges they face, and to enable tailored support to be provided. But who knows how long this may take.

Right now, LGBTIQ+ people are facing a mental health crisis with limited resources and with minimal financial support. Organisations are calling on the government to enact immediate change; with better referral pathways between housing services to ensure the safeguarding of vulnerable LGBTIQ+ persons, homelessness data to include gender diverse, trans and non-binary identities and for protections against LGBTIQ+ discrimination to be strengthened and more accessible. These are only small steps necessary for tackling a pandemic of economic and social violence experienced by the LGBTIQ+ community.

Words by Didier Muller

Many people who have not experienced menstruation find it uncomfortable. From the imagination of pools of gory blood to the reality of using and used menstrual pads, tampons, and other sanitary items. I argue that the only truly disgusting thing about menstruation is the fact that women across the world who are homeless are unable to access basic essential items during their cycle.

Women experiencing homelessness face a unique set of issues because of their gender. The homeless period website reports that though shelters are given an allowance every year to buy necessities like condoms, there is still not an allowance given for sanitary products. If shelters are unable to provide sanitary products, then women experiencing homelessness are simply not able to afford spending £13 to per month on period products which is the UK average amount spent on sanitary items.

So how do women experiencing homelessness cope with their periods? Many women are forced to go to public bathrooms and use tissues to create make-shift protection. Other women use old cloth, rags, towels, and even plastic bags. Clearly many of these methods are unsanitary and can lead to yeast and urinary tract infections. On top of the methods themselves being unsanitary, the circumstance of homelessness itself exasperates this issue. By not having access to a consistent and secure bathroom’s, many homeless women are forced to keep their pads and tampons on for longer time periods. Allegra Parillo and Edward Fellar (2017) reported that even when women do have access to showers at shelters, their access is very limited, once again elongating the time in which one should clean themselves which then maximises the risk of infection.

Though the physical effects of experiencing periods whilst homeless are largely not though about, the mental effects of experiencing periods whilst homeless are even more greatly hidden. When many women are on their periods they experience low moods, mood swings and in the worse-case depression. Women experiencing homelessness experience these feelings at a higher level because of their inability to choose to be clean and because they lack the privilege to rest in a warm bed, not worry about their next meal, and relieve themselves from pain because they cannot afford painkillers or hot water bottles.

Despite the harsh and painful facts of this often-invisible issue, there is a silver lining in that fighters for justice across the UK have strived to change this issue and you can help too. The Homeless Period is a movement started by three colleagues Oli, Josie, and Sara. The group collects sanitary product donations and sends them to women who need them most. Period Poverty is another organisation that does not only help homeless women but women of all circumstances who for some reason are unable to access sanitary products. Other than these niche organisations you can always donate products at food banks and local charities, or simply make a conversation in-person with someone in need and make a small purchase that is a humongous help.

 

Words by Dasia Ngundam

Written by:

      Tara Sheppard-Luangkhot, Peace and Conflict Studies PhD student and RDaVR Intern 

 

     Let’s take a moment to honour the victims of terrorism who have died, and who have been impacted by terrorism and violent extremism in Europe. At RJ4ALL we are inviting our online communities to light a candle on March 11, 2021. On our RJ4All social media (Twitter and Instagram @RJ4All, Facebook @Restorative Justice for All International Institute,  @Restorative Justice Research Network, and/or @Rdavr), there will be posts on March 11, 2021 for an online candlelight vigil. Please post a photo of your candle in our social media comment sections, and let us know how you try to honour victims of terrorism, and how you try to prevent violent extremism and terrorism in Europe and wherever you are in the world

   

     The Global Terrorism Index shows that far-right and religiously motivated terrorism continue to impact Europe and several parts of the world (Institute for Economics and Peace, 2020). RJ4ALL has multiple projects dedicated to preventing and countering terrorism and violent extremism in Europe. We are dedicated to healthy communities where people are not victimized by terrorism, violent radicalisation and violent extremism. In our efforts to respond to terrorism, RJ4All’s Internet Journal of Restorative Justice published a special issue on violent youth radicalisation, read more at  https://www.rj4allpublications.com/product/special-issue-editorial-violent-youth-radicalisation-perspectives-and-solutions/   RJ4All also offers several CPD accredited restorative justice e-courses to prevent violent radicalisation and support victims such as “Safeguarding and Empowering Victims of Crime” found at  https://rj4all.uk/online/courses/secv/ , or “Preventing Youth Radicalisation” found at https://www.rj4all.uk/online/courses/preventing-violent-youth-radicalisation/ and “Resolving Conflict and Addressing Group Violence” at https://rj4all.uk/online/courses/positive-futures/

 

     RJ4All Founder and Director, Dr. Theo Gavrielides also offers several free resources on his website at https://www.theogavrielides.com such as  Youth radicalisation, restorative justice and the Good Lives Model: Comparative Findings from seven countries and  Human Rights and Violent Extremism. Dr. Gavrielides has also written several blogs on the topic of violent radicalisation and violent extremism found at Blogs | London, UK

     RJ4All has multiple projects dedicated to preventing and countering violent radicalisation and violent extremism including “Violent Radicalisation, Human Rights and Restorative Justice” https://www.rj4all.info/RJ-Radicalisation . RJ4all has several projects https://www.rj4all.info/current-projects aimed at building healthy, strong and safe communities. Many of our projects are focussed on prevention of violent radicalisation such as YEIP at  https://www.facebook.com/YEIPproject/ and the projects listed below.

   

     Restorative Dialogue against Violent Radicalisation or RDaVR, is one of the RJ4All projects dedicated to preventing violent radicalisation, read more at https://www.facebook.com/restorativedialogue/.

 RDaVR is an Erasmus+ project that aims to research and develop restorative dialogue curriculum to train European criminal justice professionals to prevent violent radicalisation. Interdisciplinary efforts could create more security and safety from terrorism and violent extremism ( IEP, 2020). 

RDaVR will teach professionals to increase restorative justice and restorative dialogue skills that build resiliency, integration, self regulation and positive relationship among adults and youth at risk of violent radicalisation in the UK, Turkey, Italy, Romania, Spain and Ireland. Watch our RDaVR video at https://www.facebook.com/100007381333609/videos/2855409881381695/

     

 RADEX is another RJ4ALL, Erasmus+  project that aims to prevent and redirect youth from violent radicalisation and extremism in Europe. At RJ4ALL, we use concepts of  positive psychology and restorative justice in our positive prevention model underlying our theory of change. 

             At RJ4all, we honour all victims of terrorism by working to end violent radicalisation and violent extremism in European communities. We believe in restoring harm to communities impacted by terrorism, violent extremism amd violent radicalisation. By creating healthy communities where power is shared equitably and dialogue is restorative and peaceful, together we can build resilience against terrorism and violent extremism. 

 

Reference

Institute for Economics and Peace (2020). The Global Terrorism Index Report. Retrieved   from https://www.visionofhumanity.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/GTI-2020-web-1.pdf

By Christy Shaji

When people envision restorative justice (RJ) it is most often seen as an alternative to the current punitive system. However, RJ practices and philosophies are applicable outside of this system and can even help to reduce the number of criminal incidences in the future. This blog outlines the case for adopting restorative values in everyday life in order to create a mentality and culture underpinned by this ethos.

In all facets of today’s society, the immediate response to any wrongdoing is to punish the wrongdoer. This can range from being grounded at home, expulsions in schools, and suspensions at work. However, this authoritarian approach is often just reactive and does little to prevent further occurrences of wrongdoing. This is because this process reduces the involvement of the offender, by doing things to them rather than with them, failing to hold them fully accountable (Watchel, 1999). In contrast, RJ brings offenders and victims together to condemn the offense without attacking the individual. By separating the wrongdoer from the act, RJ provides a resolution that establishes control (like in punitive responses) while offering support to the individual (Watchel, 1999). Such supportive environments help to restore harm done, re-establish relationships and build a stronger sense of community, which allows individuals to re-integrate into society therefore reducing the number of harmful acts (Morrison, 2002).

 

There is research suggesting that the high number of incidences in schools is due to a lack of belonging and community feel (Mirsky, 2003). As schools become more crowded and put more emphasis on grades, students feel less connected to members of the school, which allows for selfish acts to occur more readily. And when they do happen, students are met with punishments like lecturing, detentions, and expulsions. However, studies have found these methods to be less effective at deterring bad behaviour than restorative practices (Watchel, 1999).

 

According to RJ, the primary aim of school rules is to protect students and staff and to ensure fairness. This means that offending behaviour should be seen as a violation of human relationships, rather than just rules being broken (Hopkins, 2002). This perspective puts the focus on restoring the broken relationship by allowing communication between wrongdoers and those affected. This is more likely to result in a sincere apology and changed behaviour as the wrongdoer has to face the impact of their actions. Empowering students and staff to engage in this process helps to foster the sense of community that schools currently lack. This connectedness helps to create a shared sense of responsibility and accountability, which is much more likely to deter misbehaviour.

 

In the U.S., Palisades High School implemented restorative practices and found it had many benefits (Mirsky, 2003). Not only did it reduce the number of disciplinary referrals, it also facilitated positive and collaborative relationships between students and teachers. Moreover, this environment of support enabled students to perform better academically. They found that the best way to practice RJ was to use informal restorative practices often, rather than formal RJ methods as a reactive measure.

 

Restorative practices can also be used to create better communities for youth living in residential care. Studies have found that children in the care system have a greater probability of having a criminal record than children living at home with a parent or guardian (McCarney, 2010). One of the reasons for this difference, is that parents are much more likely to deal with offenses privately at home, whereas offenses in residential care more frequently involve the police. When police are called to neutralise the situation most cases end in arrest. It is especially important to ensure youth in care do not enter the criminal system as existing punishments may not be enough to discourage reoffending. These youth, who feel they have lost everything already, may not see custody as much of a deterrent (McCarney, 2010). Instead, RJ can help to prevent these young people entering the criminal justice system, thus reducing the huge disparity.

 

Three years after the introduction of restorative practices in young people’s residential units, Hertfordshire County Council found a 23% decrease in police callouts (Littlechild and Sender, 2010). The young residents reported having a higher quality of life due to the improved relationships with staff and other residents. They also stated greater empathy and responsibility to others due to improved social capital. Furthermore, the findings showed an improvement in the young people’s conflict resolution skills and anger management. Similar to RJ in schools, RJ in this setting is most beneficial and effective when used immediately in an informal manner, due to the intimacy of the relationships. This again shows the need for RJ as a systemic and cultural shift rather than as a response.

 

It is clear to see that restorative practices can help to reduce conflict in institutions and public spaces, but these methods can also be applied to our personal lives. By navigating our interactions with family and friends guided by RJ philosophies, we can help to reduce conflict and establish more understanding and tolerance.

 

Zehr 2009 – Restorative Justice Philosophy:

  1. Respect others.
  2. Differentiate between the wrongdoer and the harmful act.
  3. Be aware of the impact of your actions and take responsibility when they affect others negatively.
  4. Try to involve those affected by a decision in the decision-making process.
  5. View conflicts as opportunities for learning and understanding.
  6. Sensitively confront everyday injustices.

 

Leading by example, we can assist in normalising these practices, helping to shift the current individualistic culture to a society with a shared sense of belonging and responsibility. Doing so will help alleviate the need for more formal RJ practices and reduce the number of conflicts further down the line.

 

 

 

References

 

Hopkins, B. (2002) Restorative Justice in Schools http://www.rpforschools.net/RP/2007_RP_primer.pdf

 

Littlechild, B. and Sender, H. (2010) The Introduction of Restorative Justice Approaches in Young People’s Residential Units: A Critical evaluation https://restorativejustice.org.uk/sites/default/files/files/The%20introduction%20of%20restorative%20justice%20approaches%20in%20young%20peoples%20residential%20units%20a%20critical%20evaluation.pdf

 

McCarney, W. (2010) A Restorative Justice Approach to Working with Children in Residential Care https://sites.unicef.org/tdad/4williemccarney.pdf

 

Mirsky, L. (2003) SaferSanerSchools: Transforming School Culture with Restorative Practices. http://www.rpforschools.net/RP/2007_RP_primer.pdf

 

Morrison, B. (2002) Restorative Justice and School Violence: Building Theory and Practice http://www.rpforschools.net/RP/2007_RP_primer.pdf

by Eleesha More

Around the world millions of young people work tirelessly each day by using their voice to make positive and lasting change. Young people are not only fighting for their own future but for the future of billions of other individuals and for generations to come. There are approximately 1.21 billion people aged 15-24 years old, which accounts for 15.5% of the total global population. They use their voice to protest and bring awareness to issues such as climate change, to defend their human rights, stand up when being mistreated and address the lack of or failure to take action by governments.

The concerns of young people are often overlooked and undervalued by society as a result of age-based discrimination. It is increasingly common for young people to hear the words ‘you don’t know what you’re talking about’ or ‘you’re just a kid’ when expressing their concerns about serious social and economic issues. Manu Gaspar, a peaceful protester from the Philippines says that he wants ‘world leaders to listen to young people and their concerns, rather than making condescending remarks.’

In the UK there are many organisations which promote the interests of young people such as The British Youth Council and the UK Youth Parliament. The British Youth Council is a great example of whose work is dedicated towards empowering young people, promoting their interests and representing their views to the government and decision makers at all levels. In addition, the UK Youth Parliament elects individuals aged 11-18 years to bring social change through campaigning. On a wider scale, the European Youth Forum gives a platform to youth organisations in Europe and the Commonwealth Youth Programme works internationally, in 54 countries, to empower young people. These organisations encourage young people’s participation in society and policy because they value their ideas and concerns.

However, the picture is very different across the world, especially in developing countries. In developing countries young people are excluded from any political decisions that will have an immediate and long-lasting impact on their future. It is estimated that 87% of people aged 15-24 live in developing countries which shows the extent to which individuals have little to no control of their future. It is particularly hard for young people to stand up for their rights and beliefs in developing countries because they face a variety of obstacles such as war, dictatorship or lack of resources which all have their own associated risks. Individuals face police brutality, imprisonment, torture and in extreme cases, can lose their lives. Out of fear, many make the difficult decision to not speak out or support those who are brave enough to do so. For example, Manu Gaspar, protests in the Philippines to protect his human rights and consequently faces police brutality and the risk of being shot.

In 2012, Malala spoke out publicly about the importance of girls attending school and their right to education after the Taliban took control of her village and banned girls from attending school. Consequently, she was targeted by members of the Taliban and was shot in the head on her way home from school. Malala had the courage to raise awareness for what she believed was not only important to her but other girls even though it placed her in an extremely dangerous situation. Since her recovery, she has continued her work to advocate for girls and established the Malala Fund, which is dedicated to giving every girl an opportunity to achieve a future she chooses. She has been a recipient of a Nobel peace prize and attended Oxford University. The Taliban tried to take her voice away and show others what was to come if they continued to stand up and speak out for their rights. This shows the extremes that people will go to, to suppress the voices of others and how age has no effect on their decisions.

The voices of young people are very powerful and with the use of social media are amplified. Social media is a tool that can be used to not only relay information to a larger audience and spread awareness but allow for movements to take place globally. Following the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland Florida, the students announced a march in order to demand gun control reform after 17 of their classmates lost their lives. In addition, they created the ‘Never Again’ campaign in order to prevent tragic events like this occurring in the future. With the use of social media, #MarchForOurLives was used over 3.6 million times and allowed the issue to be broadcasted globally. As a result, this attracted the attention of a number of celebrities who donated to the cause and corporations who decided who cut ties with the NRA.

Furthermore, the march attracted millions of individuals and turned out to be the largest single day protest. The group successfully influenced hundreds of thousands of young people to register to vote and in turn there was a historic youth turnout in the 2018 midterm elections which resulted in 46 NRA backed candidates to lose. Although bills to tighten gun restrictions are on hold in congress, progress has still been made in other areas. For example, Florida announced the ‘Red Flag’ legislation which allows the removal of firearms from individuals showing signs of violent behaviour, the age to buy a gun was increased to 21 and the US Department of Justice banned bump stocks. This shows that young people have the power to make change and but just need the chance. The changes made to legislation were influenced by millions of young people who demanded change.

Furthermore, Greta Thunberg, an environmental activist, staged a protest outside the Swedish parliament to demand a reduction in carbon emissions in line with the Paris Agreement. This event gained a lot of publicity and started an international climate movement called Fridays for Future whereby students skip school to demand action to be taken towards tackling climate change. Social media has allowed this movement to be backed by over 14 million students who protest in 7500 cities on Fridays. Although no significant and immediate policies have been implemented to reduce environmental degradation, there is an ‘army’ of individuals who have taken immediate action by changing their lifestyles and encouraging others to do the same because of inaction taken by world leaders.

Aditya Mukarji embarked on a door-to-door campaign in India to stop the use of plastic straws. Within 5 months of hard work and dedication he was able to replace over 500,000 plastic straws in New Delhi with environmentally friendly alternatives. Over the course of two years Aditya prevented the use of 28 million plastic objects by persuading 150 establishments to go plastic-free. This begs the question; how much plastic use could be avoided in a nation with over one billion inhabitants if the government adopted a plastic straw ban? This indicates how influential young people can be and the impact they can have in their local communities. That is why it is crucial that world leaders recognise the issues which are being highlighted by young people and work with them to achieve an outcome that will be beneficial to society.

Giving young people the opportunity and platform to have their voices heard is extremely important as they are the future. Any decision or policies enforced now will have a greater impact on young people than any other group in society. We all know what greatness can be achieved when people work together so it is vital that world leaders, people of influence and power not only work with young people but become more open minded to the idea of change. It begs the question: what position would we be in if world leaders took more notice of the voice of young people? It is important to note that change cannot take place overnight but with hope, dedication and hard work we can work towards a brighter future.

https://www.un.org/development/desa/youth/wp-content/uploads/sites/21/2020/07/2020-World-Youth-Report-FULL-FINAL.pdf

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/campaigns/2019/08/ten-young-activists-shaping-the-world-they-want/

https://malala.org/malalas-story?sc=header

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10611-020-09911-4

https://marchforourlives.com/mission-story/

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/mar/26/gun-control-movement-march-for-our-lives-stoneman-douglas-parkland-builds-momentum

https://giffords.org/blog/2019/03/7-ways-america-changed-since-the-march-for-our-lives/