Villanova College is a Catholic school for boys which began a major school renewal project in 2003 - with the aim of improving the experience of schooling for its students. One of the most significant parts of this renewal has been the adoption of Restorative Practices by the College. This paper outlines the particular vision of RP adopted by the College and discusses some of the major implementation issues faced on the journey, including lessons learned from our particular context.
Paper presented at the The Role of Schools in Crime Prevention Conference convened by the Australian Institute of Criminology in conjunction with the Department of Education, Employment and Training, Victoria, and Crime Prevention Victoria and held in Melbourne, 30 September – 1 October 2002
Community Conferencing is a restorative justice approach to the management of harmful behaviour. It offers a way to achieve positive outcomes for students, their parents and caregivers and the school community in the wake of the sort of serious incidents usually so challenging for our schools. This approach offers an opportunity for all parties to address unresolved feelings and questions about these incidents. It is also thought to be a useful approach to address the issue of retention of at risk students in our schools.
The present chapter shifts the frame of analysis in two respects. First, the focus changes from what happens, to what people think should happen when rules have been broken and others harmed. Perceptions and expectations that individuals have of justice practices is a topic that Daly touches upon in her argument for why retributive and restorative practices should not be conceptualized as oppositional forms of justice. Second, this chapter looks behind the practices that individuals favour in particular situations, and seeks to identify broad and widely held value systems that explain why certain justice practices resonate more strongly with some constituencies than with others. In the process, the age-old question of personal experiences versus social ideals as shapers of our policy preferences is addressed.
When schools decide to implement anti-bullying programs, they must decide on an approach that best fits their underlying organizational philosophy. Some schools maintain a hierarchical structure with strict codes of conduct and punishments associated with violation of these codes. Other schools are organized around a set of democratic principles in which codes of conduct are communicated, developed, modified, and enforced through discussion and feedback among all members of the school community.
Restorative justice practices are being regarded increasingly as attractive options for dealing with wrongdoing in school communities. Traditional punishments of a social kind, such as suspension or expulsion, are being sidelined as tools of last resort as researchers and practitioners document the negative consequences of allowing children “to be at a loose end” in the community (Cunningham & Henggeler, 2001; Hirschi, 1969; Jenkins, 1997), geographically and socially separated from family and friends who are enmeshed in education and employment networks for most of their day. Suspension and expulsion leave children who are already vulnerable even more exposed than they were previously to being trapped within subcultures that operate at the fringe of, if not outside the law.
Teachers and young people are facing significant challenges in the new millennium. Many young people are resistant to schooling which they see as increasingly disconnected from their lives given rapidly changing political, economic, social and cultural circumstances including new communication technologies, changing employment patterns, a growing gap between rich and poor, and increasing local diversity and global interconnectedness. The multiplicity of lifeworlds and overlapping subcultures that young people are part of are alien to many teachers. The inability of traditional schooling to engage with such factors in meaningful ways can be seen in resistant behaviour of students and frustration on the part of teachers.
Circles are a tradition from communities of the past where people joined in a circle to understand one another, share perspectives, solve problems or possibly make peace. Even today, healthy families will find time to switch off the TV and join together with a hot drink to talk honestly about how things are. Today Circles are being used in a vast variety of contexts. In schools they are building trust and understanding within tense class situations, in police contexts internationally they are being used increasingly to resolve deeply entrenched difficulties between gangs and community groups, lowering murder rates. In neighbourhoods Circles are being used to rebuild the structure of ‘community’, helping isolated people to feel supported and appreciated. In social support agencies, Circles have been used for years to engage families and professionals together in mutually beneficial environments.
This paper explores the central role played by schools in introducing students to a positive experience of justice and community. Issues in the current educational context that impact on the introduction of restorative practices into schools are discussed. A pilot project to assess the value of the process of Community Conferencing into schools within the State of Victoria, Australia is placed within the context of educational developments in Victoria and the development of restorative processes in education in Australia. Emerging themes from the pilot project are presented. The paper includes a framework for conceptualising the place of restorative justice within the broader efforts of schools to develop safe and supportive environments that promote student wellbeing and connectedness to school. The need for a multi-level response from systemic and school levels to meet the challenge of developing sustainability in restorative practice in education is highlighted.
Addressing school violence has no easy answers. There have been journeys down many different avenues. We have swung between the libertarian ideal of rehabilitation for the damaged lives of perpetrators of violence and the more conservative punitive just deserts approach. Broadly speaking, the former values compassion, while the latter values accountability for individuals' actions. Both approaches aim to (1) achieve behavioural change for the individual; (2) keep our schools and communities safe. The evidence is mixed as to what works best. Is it possible to incorporate both compassion and accountability in the sanctions we impose when dealing with school violence? Advocates of restorative justice answer a tentative yes to this question.
Can our school system, through the adoption of restorative justice practices, play a role in the maintenance of a civil society? This chapter argues that it does hold an important role as a developmental institution in this capacity. An understanding of a civil society is advanced that highlights the reciprocal interplay between social capital and responsible citizenship. These arguments are substantiated through sociological and psychological theories that uphold the importance of social relationships to the regulation of social justice.
Bullying at school causes enormous stress for many children and their families, and has long-term effects. School bullying has been identified as a risk factor associated with antisocial and criminal behaviour. Bullies are more likely to drop out of school and to engage in delinquent and criminal behaviour. The victims are more likely to have higher levels of stress, anxiety, depression and illness, and an increased tendency to suicide. This paper reports on a restorative justice program that was run in a primary school in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), but whose lessons have wider application.
Bullying, violence and alienation are with us, and they each contribute to the cycle of violence that is boiling over in our schools and communities. The pattern is striking deep. Even in places where we would least expect it. Once a student’s feeling of alienation strikes deep enough the consequences are devastating. In the worst of cases it goes one of two ways: suicide or revenge.
We leave the realm of justice to our courts, where investment and growth are soaring. Yet justice is a part of our everyday lives, and hence it also belongs in our homes and our schools, where investment and growth are in decline. Schools, as our primary developmental institutions, need to invest in justice. The implementation of restorative justice and responsive regulation in schools offer an opportunity for schools to invest in justice, not a simple ‘one-off’ opportunity, but one that embraces the ongoing and emerging complexities of school life
Can "punishment" be part of a process and outcome termed "restorative"? For the past several years, I've been challenging colleagues to rethink the oppositional contrast they use in comparing retributive and restorative justice (Daly 1998, 1999a, 1999b). The source of my critique comes from what I have observed in family or diversionary conferences in Australia; what victims, offenders, and their supporters say; and the many post-conference debriefings I've had with coordinators and other researchers.
What is the place of "punishment" in a process and outcome termed "restorative"? For the past several years, I've been challenging colleagues to rethink the oppositional contrast they use in comparing retributive and restorative justice (Daly 1998, 1999a, 1999b). The source of my critique comes from what I have observed in family or diversionary conferences in Australia;1 what victims, offenders, and their supporters say; and the many post-conference debriefings I've had with coordinators and other researchers.
‘Youth is disintegrating. The youngsters of the land have a disrespect for their elders and a contempt for authority in ever form. Vandalism is rife, and crime of all kinds is rampant among our young people. The nation is in peril’ (quotation from an Egyptian priest 4000 years ago, quoted in Madison 1970).
Although a variety of diversionary programs, including cautioning, Drug Courts and some initiatives in the Family court may be broadly labelled ‘restorative’, this paper restricts its coverage to programs involving meetings of victims, offenders and communities to discuss and resolve an offence. It deals primarily with developments in the use of these programs in ‘justice’, but there will also be reference to the state of play with programs in these other settings.
This paper is designed to assist change agents at a District and Regional support level; system decision makers; and external consultants apply change management theory in the educational context to assist with the implementation of restorative practices. An understanding of effective change management theories is essential to better understand the scope of the change process and to more effectively manage implementation planning.
This paper seeks to broaden the perspectives of senior and middle management and restorative practitioners around what restorative practice in schools can look like; and to present some practical guidelines which represent a strategic approach to the implementation of restorative practices, so that they “stick” – that is, become sustainable.
Churchill Fellowship Report - Lynn Doppler 2006 Doppler, L. (2006) To study the effects on student achievement in schools where restorative practices have been embedded as a way of learning and being together – UK, USA and Canada. Churchill Trust 2006