Iredell-Statesville Schools School & Family Magazine December 2016 - Page 6

Restorative Justice Practices Keep Students Connected to their School – Utilizing Restorative Circles Restorative justice practices (RJP) are an alternative approach to justice that promotes the notion that everyone has a responsibility to the improvement of such systems. It contrasts with the more commonly used punitive methods, which focus on punishing offenders and satisfying legal principles. A system based on RJP relies heavily on conflict resolution through telling the truth, acknowledging responsibility, and creating accountability. School-based restorative justice extends a respectful alternative to dealing with misbehavior and crimes, from minor infractions to violence. Used proactively, it can also be used to create a culture of connectivity that benefits everyone, but mostly the students. Why is that? Because, feeling connected to school has been found to be one of the most important protective factors for youth at risk of dropping out of school. When students feel they belong in their school, they are more likely to mature to be healthy, productive adults. “What we have found from our research is that kids who felt connected to school . . . smoked less, drank alcohol less, had a later age of sexual debut and attempted suicide less. On top of this, from the educational literature, they do better across every academic measure we have. As our research expanded, [we learned that] this is not just an association—kids who smoke less also felt more connected to school. It is a causal relationship. There is something in that bond, in that connection to school that changes the life trajectory––at least the health and academic behavior. It is very powerful––second only to parents in power. In some contexts, it’s more powerful than parents.” Robert Blum, professor and chair, Department of Population and Family Health Sciences, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health What is the outcome for students who 4 Iredell-Statesville School & Family lose out on being connected? About 75 percent of America’s state prison inmates did not complete high school. Dropouts are more than eight times as likely to be in jail or prison as high school graduates. (www.silentepidemic.org, 2008). Restorative approaches have a social justice theory: students are happier, more cooperative, achie ٔɔ䰁ɔɔ)Ѽͥѥٔ́ѡȁ٥ȁݡ)ѡ͔ͥѥ́ѡɥ䁑ѡ́ݥѠѡ)Ʌѡȁѡѡ́ѼѡȁȁѡQ)ѡͥ́́ѕ䁉Ʌɕ͕ɍ)ɕ̰ѥمѥɹ) ɍ($)͍٥ɅЁѕ́)ͥɕѽɅѥٔɍѼɽٔɕѥ͡)ɹ($)=䰁ݼ͍Ց́)Ѽѕ̸q]I(ɍѕ((0