I enjoy restorative conferencing. I've been awed by the way people share their hearts and address the harms they've caused or experienced. While not everyone will go into a conference, I like offering an opportunity. I've learned that I can serve just by listening to stories when people aren't interested in the conference process. They are interested in someone who will listen to them.
The broken family
....Much has been written about the sociopathic behavior of child molesters, particularly if they are adults who molest their own children. Society has been plagued by such behavior both in the family and in the church. When this type of behavior surfaces in a sleepy agricultural town whose family values embody the very essence of its people, the alleged perpetrators are never able to regain their reputation. People begin to look over their shoulders and question whether their neighbors are who they think they are. The concepts of trust and faith are rocked to the bone. This is why few crimes carry as much social disgrace as child molestation. Most people would rather be accused of armed robbery.
Can I cry?
I have a confession to make. I cry at the drop of a hat. Movies, television shows, commercials, stories – it doesn't matter. I can be in tears in 0.2 seconds.
So, it may be a surprise to folks that know me to learn that I don’t cry when I’m facilitating. I’m tempted at times, but I haven’t actually shed tears during a conference. I've been thinking about this recently after a training event in Panama where several Prison Fellowship leaders were talking about facilitating the Sycamore Tree Project®. The training had been intense with personal stories and a lot of tears. In the middle of all the sharing, one of the leaders asked if it was okay for the facilitator to cry.
Database of US restorative justice programs
The National Council on Crime and Delinquency recently received a grant from the Office of Victims of Crime to conduct a national survey of all existing restorative justice programs and practices.
We're developing tools to gather information on the varying objectives, approaches, and processes of RJ programs across the country and are in the process of identifying who to send the survey to.
Restorative justice community/classroom conferencing: A guide for parents and teachers
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.”
I’m not into remorse
Lots of people will ask me about offenders feeling remorse when they go through a restorative conference. Trainee facilitators will ask whether or not I thought a client showed remorse during a pre-conference. People curious about the process will ask if those who have committed crime actually show remorse. The most difficult conversations occur when I talk to a victim of crime about participating. They may ask if the offender has shown remorse in my meetings with him/her.
Nova Scotia spends $500K on 'restorative justice' bullying program in schools
from the article by Kris Sims in Sun News:
Nova Scotia is spending $500,000 to expand anti-bullying campaigns in schools, hoping "restorative justice" methods modelled after native sentencing circles can curb the problem in the province.
"Students will largely avoid the stigma of being 'sent to the office' or being suspended. We should not underestimate the negative side-effects of a child's experience at school if that experience involves multiple trips to the principal's office or suspensions from school," reads a government handout on the approach.
Victims’ rights and restorative justice: Is there a common ground?
Last week my column on the resentencing of juveniles who had received life without parole drew a comment from the National Organization of Victims of Juvenile Lifers (NOVJL). The commenter had a legal argument in opposition to my own view, but more striking, at least to me, was the sentence that asked how I am going to, “support, inform, and not re-traumatize the devastated victims’ families left behind in these horrible crimes.”
Justice? What about understanding?
Scrolling through RSS feeds I saw a link for, “After driving on sidewalk to pass school bus, woman must wear ‘idiot’ sign.” I admit clicking the link to see what it was about. The first line quotes someone as declaring, “Justice has been served!” before going into how a woman had driven on a sidewalk to get around a parked school bus with children on it. The penalty was to stand near the scene of the incident wearing a sign that says, “Only an idiot would drive on the sidewalk to avoid the school bus.” She will also pay a $250 fine.
Restorative practices in the university: How two professors and a student worked together to resolve conflict
Altravis sat in the back of my algebra class. He missed class often. His work showed evidence of his struggle. When I focused on him, I could see a look of disengagement. One day as I stood at the front of the classroom discussing a problem, I heard Altravis shout out in frustration. I was shaken and scared. I knew that his outburst had rattled students. After class, I approached Altravis and asked what was going on. He apologized and explained that it wouldn't happen again.