While some may believe that restorative justice replaces harsh consequences, this process actually prioritizes repairing any harm that was done and addresses the root of the behaviors. Restorative justice centers around following principles:
- Showing concern for all parties involved in the bullying behavior and crime (victims, offenders, schools and communities)- including all those involved in the crime in the response. Showing respect to each individual, empowering them and addressing their concerns.
- Encouraging offenders to accept their actions and take responsibility- seeking full accountability for the crime and repairing the harm that was done.
- Fostering opportunity for dialogue- creating a time for and initiating conversations between offenders and victims where issues can be resolved.
- Focusing on repairing relationships first rather than punishment- emphasizing reconciliation instead of isolation to mend trust that has been broken.
- Stimulating collaboration that involves the community- welcoming participation and including the community in the decision making process.
Restorative justice acknowledges that bullying, crime and criminal behaviors hurt everyone in communities and focuses on making things right. Through open dialogue and community support, restorative justice denounces these acts while working to resolve issues in a constructive manner. By implementing practices of restorative justice, schools and communities may be able to achieve peace, tackle injustices, and create a safer environment for all.
What are your thoughts on restorative justice as a way for handling bullying and crimes within our schools and communities?