Restorative Justice and Reconciliation

Helping Students Work through Conflict –Restorative Justice and Reconciliation

Beliefs

It is our goal to maintain a healthy school environment and to teach students through their mistakes about integrity, responsibility, relationship, character and leadership. Therefore, consequences are not given to punish, but instead to teach and in some cases protect the learning environment of the school.

Four Steps: (ASIS – Affirm Values and Process, Story-tell, Identify Harm Done, Seek Solutions)

1. Affirm commitment to relationships, personal responsibility, character, leadership, honesty, restoration and justice:

In this opening time, we can remind all to avoid the temptation to slide into less positive ways of dealing with conflict

Escape responses like denying there is a problem, blaming other people, or running away from situations or relationships.

Attack responses like put downs, gossip and fighting.

2. Storytelling:

Everybody’s voice is important, and we show respect to everyone’s perspective; therefore we take turns, listen intently without interrupting each other, and assume the best about each other.

We always start with personal responsibility; therefore we start by telling what our role was in the problem and avoid pointing the finger at others (the one ready to take personal responsibility starts the conversation).

Once everyone’s voice is heard, a time of clarification can take place, celebrating where the accounts are consistent, and finding clarity where the stories are not consistent (by seeking more information or perspectives).Sometimes the parties themselves can work this out. If something doesn’t make sense, we can use phrases like, “That doesn’t make sense to me, and this is why…” or “Hmmm… that makes me feel like you aren’t telling the whole truth about that, and it’s a problem if I can’t believe you.How can we solve that problem?”

3. Identifying the harm done and natural consequences:

Once all stories are told and the situation is understood, take time to identify all the harm done to people, relationships or property. Most often, harm was caused by many or all those involved. Sometimes the harm done is a natural consequence of our own actions, and it is important to acknowledge this and let those natural consequences teach powerful lessons. It’s important not to save people from experiencing these lessons.

4. Seeking solutions that lead to restoration and reconciliation:

It is important for all who caused harm to come up with a plan to repair the harm done, and this plan must be agreeable to those who were harmed. In matters of relationship, there is great power in apologies and forgiveness. Neither can be demanded (or they lose meaning and sincerity), but they can be taught and encouraged.

 

The Five “A”s of a good apology

  • Alter your choice in the future.
  • Ask for forgiveness.
  • Accept the consequences.
  • Apologize for how your choice affected the other person.
  • Admit what you did wrong.

 

The Four Promises of Forgiveness

  • “I will treat you with respect and caring.”
  • “I will not make you look bad by talking to others about what you did.”
  • “I will not bring up this situation again and use it against you.”
  • “I will try my best not to think about this situation.”

Note: “I forgive you” is very different than “It’s okay”.  The words “I forgive you” imply there was harm done (which is not okay) but that forgiveness is offered and the promises above are made.  “It’s okay” implies that it is okay for whatever happened to repeat, which in most cases is not the case.

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