Restorative Justice

What is Restorative Justice?

Restorative justice is a term used to define practices that build trust and "shift the focus from punishment of student offenses to prevention and "community building." In addition to being used to handle discipline, improve school culture, and even teach classroom content, experts contended that RJ can lead to skill-building for students, particularly skills relevant to social and emotional learning (e.g., how to communicate with peers and teachers, talk about situations in a calm environment, give context to situations before jumping to conclusions)."

Key features:

  • Focus on repairing harm rather than punishing the offender
  • Include the student voice in the process
  • Integrate a whole-school approach
  • Incorporate practices and strategies to build students' social/emotional skills

Key Practices:

  • Holding restorative circles - facilitated meetings that allow students and others to come together for problem solving, resolving disciplinary issues, receiving content instruction, and discussing concerns related to difficult topics, such as violence in the community or racial tensions.
  • Restorative conferencing - a facilitated meeting between wrongdoer and person harmed (may also include teachers and parents) to discuss the situation, harm, and solutions.
  • Providing peace rooms - "safe spaces" created in schools where restorative circles and conferences may be held.
  • Restorative questioning - open-ended questions used to help individuals process an incident and reach a solution.
  • Active listening - a technique that requires the listener to restate or paraphrase what she or he heard from another in the listener's own words.

-From WestEd Justice and Prevention Research Center Summary Findings

Repairing Our Schools Through Restorative Justice:

Community Begins with the Morning Meeting:

Raising Kids with Restorative Justice:

Institute of Restorative Practices: School Resources Link