What Are Restorative Practices?
In 1994 schools across the United States implemented Zero Tolerance policies after federal legislation required expulsion for one year when students brought a weapon to school. Many schools expanded this policy to reduce possession or use of illicit drugs and prevent violence. A multitude of “misbehaviors” escalated to more than 3 million students suspended from schools in 2010. This is double the number of suspensions in the 1970s. Traditional punishment is not working in schools across the country.
The increase in suspensions has created a downward spiral for countless students. Students are suspended, often unsupervised which allows opportunities to get into further trouble. Students return to school but their behavior is not only unchanged, they often return angry and resentful. These students typically continue inappropriate behaviors which results in more suspensions.
Every day students miss school, they fall further behind, often dropping out of school. This practice of pushing students out of schools towards the juvenile and criminal justice systems is referred to as the school-to-prison pipeline.
Many schools are effectively using Restorative Practices to address the school-to-prison pipeline. Restorative Practices, which has its roots in Restorative Justice, is a newer field of study that is being used in schools to improve student’s accountability, repair harm, and restore relationships. RP is used with all students, beginning with building community amongst students and staff.
Alternatives to traditional discipline are explored as student responsibility increases and classroom disruptions, suspensions and expulsions decrease. Find out more about these innovating strategies that are positively changing the lives of students on my web page.
If you are enrolled in Dr. Marian’s Restorative Practices course, click here to access the participant materials. Note that this page is password-protected.