Restorative Justice is a way to help everyone involved with the bullying find peace and be able to heal.
This type of approach focuses on the needs of the victims and the bullies and gets everyone involved.
The bullied child generally takes an active role in the process allowing them to build their confidence and independance while bullies are encouraged to take responsibility for their actions and are supported in their efforts to make things right.
It is not always an easy process but has shown to bring about the best results for everyone. The bullied child gets to have a say, the bully gets to have a say and they are guided by the principles of restorative justice.
The goal is to heal and restore rather than punish the wrong doer.
The term restorative justice has been used for many years in the criminal justice system. Rather than punishing offenders they are held accountable for their crimes by involving them in face to face encounters with the people they have harmed. Research has revealed victims are more satisfied and able to move forward and offenders are less likely to commit the same crime.
We can take some valuable lessons from the success of the criminal justice system and use their model to help our bullied children and our children who are bullies.
We start by seperating the behaviour from the person and providing a frame work so the bully can fix what he did, keep it from happening again and heal with the person he has harmed.
The Bullied child benefits by being able to express their feelings in a safe environment and having a say in how the harm can be corrected.
Restorative Justice principles have been used in schools and group homes to proactively build positive school communities. According to the International Institute for Restorative Practices these inverventions have dramatically reduced discipline referrals, suspensions and expulsions.
If your school is experiencing difficulties with bullying you can provide some direction to your school officials who can get resources and training to implement restorative practices at www.iirp.edu
Over all, this process allows everyone to be respected and heal.
It is time for a change. It is time for healing. It is time to to get back to basics and balance the need for guidance and discipline with the needs of our children and our goal for them to be healthy, successful adults.
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