Restorative approaches have an extensive history in Native American, First Nation, and other Indigenous cultures. In the United States, the offshoots of this model initially emerged in the justice field as an alternative to the traditional justice system responses to crimes. “The overall goal of these programs is to restore the harm caused by the offense to the particular victim(s) and to the wider community, as well as to eliminate the likelihood of repeated offenses by addressing any underlying issues with the offender that may have precipitated the offense.” i
In schools, restorative approaches complement school responder models by offering an accountability mechanism that is outside of justice system referral and exclusionary school discipline. Rather than arrest, suspend, or expel students for in-school infractions, there are opportunities for educators and administrators to implement restorative practices to keep students who commit infractions in school while building positive school climates and cultures and reducing disciplinary inequities. Restorative approaches offer timely accountability that repairs harm. These practices help students learn to take responsibility for their actions or decisions in a tiered approach that aligns with their behaviors.
New Resources Available
NCYOJ is excited to announce the release of a suite of school support resources anchored by a new Research to Practice Brief, Augmenting Restorative Approaches with Behavioral Health Supports in School. Research has consistently confirmed that traditional exclusionary discipline methods disproportionately impact students with disabilities, who are twice as likely to receive an out-of-school suspension. And, 25 percent of students arrested in school have Individualized Education Plans (IEPs). These disproportionalities disadvantage students, their families, and communities as even one out-of-school suspension significantly increases the likelihood that a student may not graduate and may have contact with the justice system.
NCYOJ’s new resource suite explores the movement of restorative practices from justice systems into the education arena and the growing data on their effectiveness as alternatives to traditional discipline practices. The suite also offers practical implementation information based on the experiences of a high school in New Orleans, Louisiana that is integrating restorative approaches and behavioral health supports to improve its school climate and best meet the needs of its students.
[i] Kathleen J. Bergseth and Jeffrey A. Bouffard, “Examining the Effectiveness of a Restorative Justice Program for Various Types of Juvenile Offenders,” International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology 57, no. 9 (September 2013): 1054–75, https://doi.org/10.1177/0306624X12453551.