Repairing Harm Through Restorative
Restorative justice in schools provides empowerment for staff, teachers
and students to have their needs voiced, their feelings heard, to heal harm
if caused and to be included in the process of repairing damage.
Learning Unit Co-ordinator, Secondary School
This chapter considers the place of restorative conferencing in the whole school restorative approach. It describes what a conference is, what is involved in running one, and what it can achieve. It also considers the importance of thorough preparation and follow-up, and how to decide whether to use a conference or mediation in a particular situation. The process and the skills build on everything that has been described so far in Part II of this book and it will be clear that this is one more piece in the jigsaw of an approach underpinned by a common ethos and value base.
Restorative conferencing is a process that seeks to repair the harm done to relationships within a community by an incident involving anti-social behaviour. It allows everyone involved to meet, and gain a better understanding from each other of the impact of the incident, the reasons for it and the preferred outcomes. The process usually involves the person or people who have been adversely affected, their parents/supporters, the person or people responsible for causing the harm and their supporters. Key school personnel and behaviour support staff may also be invited to attend, and indeed they may also have been personally affected. It has already been said in an earlier chapter that the terms 'victim' and 'offender' are rarely appropriate in school-based restorative conferences, and different schools use different terms. The objections to the terms include: