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Restorative justice community/classroom conferencing: A guide for parents and teachers

Dec 06, 2012

from the booklet by Nocole Pakan and the Society for Safe and Caring Schools and Communities:

It may seem surprising, but many children and youth often misbehave, not because they are trying to harm or disrupt the well-being of others or because they are “bad kids,” but because they are simply trying to meet a personal need, albeit in a negative way. “Children’s behaviours are determined, for the most part, by how they feel about the current state of their physical and psychosocial needs.”

Many incidents of misbehaviour are signs of children or youth trying to meet their own needs or trying to attract the attention of an adult. “Obvious needs are for food, clothing, safety, shelter and love. Additional needs are for physical closeness, individual attention, an intellectually stimulating environment, meaningful activities and respect/[power],” (Solter, 1998). Research shows that because children often don’t know how to ask for help or have not developed positive strategies to fulfill their needs, they can turn to negative behaviors.

Restorative justice can help young people learn positive strategies for dealing with conflict, while understanding and taking responsibility for the impact their negative behaviours have had on those around them. Enhancing group communication helps to identify other psychological issues, such as drug use or mental illness, which might be factors in the behaviour and might otherwise remain unidentified.

This resource is written with the intent of providing an overview of the restorative justice approach and when and how it can be used. This book serves as a resource for schools and parents. The restorative justice approach focuses on improving the safety and well-being of all students by emphasizing reconciliation and interpersonal healing after incidents involving violence and other anti-social behaviours. The process will help students learn to behave appropriately and to take into consideration the impact of their actions on those affected by their behaviour.

Read the whole booklet.

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