- Showing 3 posts filed under: School [–], Policy [–] published between Apr 01, 2011 and Apr 30, 2011 [Show all]
The restorative approach in Nova Scotia: A partnership of government, communities and schools
....There is now a significant interest across Nova Scotia to bring the restorative approach to schools. Said Pat Gorham, director of crime prevention for the Nova Scotia Department of Justice, “Our provincial government is trying to find out what the capacity might be for RJ in Nova Scotia, identifying frameworks that might be put into place for schools that want to participate. The work has largely been from the community up. All pilot programs are at the local level, with individual school administrators opting to commit to a restorative approach, supported by regional RJ agencies.”
The Tri-County Restorative Justice agency exemplifies this integration; it handles diversion of police-referred youth, and it founded Bringing Restorative Justice into Schools, the first project to develop a program using restorative approaches within schools in Nova Scotia. This program trains students throughout the province as RJ facilitators.
Campbelltown Primary School's justice for all sees grades rise and behaviour improve
Deputy principal Graeme Shugg said the effect of restorative practices at Campbelltown was immediate. "Teachers reported change within two weeks in their classes," he said.
"We empower kids to question and take responsibility for what they've done and repair the harm and allow the victim to have a say. The bottom line is, the people involved in the problem are the best people to solve the problem."
Suspensions dropped from 86 in 2003 to just 33 last year. In 2003, students were sent to the principal for discipline 683 times. Last year there were 76 referrals to the office.
Can we create purely non-punitive restorative programs?
One reason to ask this question is because there is a growing body of evidence that shows using punishment in the form of isolation, detention or suspension to address behavioral problems in schools only aggravates other issues, such as bullying, violence, substandard academic performance, the lack of parental involvement, high staff turnover and burnout.
Meanwhile, restorative practices are proving to be an effective alternative to punitive measures. They provide an effective means of creating safe, supportive learning environments, often at far less cost than the punitive means, whether the cost is measured in terms of financial outlay, the time expended on discipline issues or the stress level experienced by those in the system. And restorative measures are proving to be an effective means of addressing the school-to-prison pipeline that has become of national concern.
But can school or other programs be created that do not eventually resort to punitive measures for those who continue to misbehave? In researching various approaches to restorative school programs, most seem to continue the blend of restorative processes and punitive measures to varying degrees.