Uncovering the consequences inside Restorative Justice.

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Many people who use, or have tried restorative justice in their school are entrenched in the conception that there are no consequences, or that people who do things get away with just having a conversation with someone.

Recently I have trialled something more.

Three boys had a fight in the classroom. One grabbed the second in a headlock, and the third kicked the first in the head. As restorative justice dictates, we met individually with the boys first.

We talked about what had happened, who they had affected, and how they were going to make it right. These boys are pretty good at this kind of stuff now, they decided they would make it right with each other in different ways. Some apologising, some inviting others to join them in projects, and others making promises for the future.

We then discussed who else they had affected, and discussed how they had affected The School.

"We live by a set of values here, and by fighting in the classroom you have jeopardised those. You have made others believe that this is actually an okay way to behave, and an okay thing to do at school. How are we going to fix this?"

This is where the consequences came in. One boy hadn't heard of the values we live by before, and suggested that he might make a poster, so that everyone knows what to live by in the classroom. Another decided that he wanted to write a letter to the school apologising, and publicly displayed it on the notices for a week. The third boy decided that he would like to start a T-Shirt campaign with the slogan "There is another way" to show people that there's another way to settle their differences instead of fighting with each other.

This sounds great, if it actually happens. And lots of teachers (including myself) would have dusted their hands there and said a job well done, and wandered off into the distance. If a traditional school gave a detention to someone, and the person didn't turn up, they would follow up with that student. The same is necessary here. If one of these students fails to deliver on their promise of making it right with the school, or each other, then they need to be followed up with, and held to account for their decisions.

I think the idea behind restorative justice is great, and the fact that the consequences are so much more aligned with the action of the student allows much more sense making behind the "punishment".


  1. That's fantastic Jono, thanks for sharing. I agree being accountable is an important part of the process.

    1. Thanks Vanessa! Important and often overlooked.


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