From Jim Gerl's Special Education Law Blog
By Jim Gerl, Esq.
March 9, 2016
The blog of the U S Department of Education has reposted an article concerning the use of Restorative Justice Principles and Stop Bullying concepts in order to prevent bullying as well as to deal with incidents of bullying.
To quote the post:
"States and districts are increasingly in support of policies and practices that shift school discipline away from zero tolerance, such as suspension and expulsion, to discipline that is focused on teaching and engagement.
To this effort, districts and states are rethinking discipline, and adopting both Restorative Justice Practices (RJP) and Bullying Prevention (BP) as school-wide efforts to provide school staff with a set of preventative and responsive strategies to supporting positive student behaviors."
What are Restorative Justice Practices?
Restorative Justice Practices are a set of informal and formal strategies intended to build relationships and a sense of community to prevent conflict and wrongdoing, and respond to wrongdoings, with the intention to repair any harm that was a result of the wrongdoing.
Preventative strategies include community or relationship building circles, and the use of restorative language. Some responsive strategies include the use of Restorative Questions within a circle or conferencing format, again with the intention of repairing the wrong that happened as a result of the behavior.
The Restorative Questions, while varied in exact language, ask the student to consider: what happened? who did it impact? how do you make it right?
What is Bullying Prevention?
Bullying Prevention involves explicitly teaching students how to treat each other respectfully (i.e. what respect looks like in their school)and how students, including bystanders and the student who is bullied, should respond when peers are not being respectful (i.e. Stop, Walk and Talk).
Also important, is how adults respond to bullying and they help reduce peer verbal and physical aggression (i.e. prompt the student to use the Stop, Walk and Talk response).
Both RJP and BP provide explicit guidelines for students and staff on their interactions with one another to prevent and respond to problem behavior in a dignified, problem-solving manner. They are also both in alignment with the preventative, research-validated framework of School-Wide Positive Behavior Supports and Interventions (SWPBIS).
Within SWPBIS, school teams define, instruct, and reinforce appropriate social behaviors in the same manner they teach academic content. SWPBIS is data-driven; through regular review of student behavioral progress educators are equipped with real time information necessary for organize school resources to meet the social needs of all students.
SWPBIS provides a strong platform for the adoption of RJP and BP because it allows educators to see the impact of both the preventative and responsive strategies within the school. Here are some examples of how schools are merging RJP and BP with SWPBIS."
You can read the article here.