Restorative Justice for Schools

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    • 00:00

      [MUSIC PLAYING]

    • 00:11

      LORENN WALKER: I'm Lorenn Walker and the Executive Directorof Hawai'i Friends of Restorative Justice. [LorennWalker, JD, MPH, Executive Director,Executive Director of Hawai'i Friends of Restorative Justice]After about six years getting into restorative justice,having been a lawyer for about 12 years,I had the opportunity to personally participatein a restorative encounter.[School Restorative Justice Case Study]

    • 00:36

      LORENN WALKER [continued]: This was in 2000.I was coordinating a program for the Honolulu Police Departmentdiverting juveniles from the traditional criminal justiceprocess, coming into places like this courtroom,to restorative encounters, where they were goingto meet with the people that they harmedand their families and address what

    • 00:59

      LORENN WALKER [continued]: they could do to try to repair the harm that they caused.During this pilot project I was coordinating,my son was an eighth grader.And he was 14 years old.And one day, I got a telephone callfrom the principal of his school.He told me, your son has been hurt.He's been hit in the head.

    • 01:20

      LORENN WALKER [continued]: He's OK.He was in the nurse's room, but he's OK.And I asked the principal immediately who did it.And when the principal told me, I got very concerned.Because the boy who did hit my son and my sonhad a long history of fighting.They were in soccer together, and they were always fighting.

    • 01:41

      LORENN WALKER [continued]: I was really concerned that the boywould be suspended and become more angry at my son.And sure enough, the principal said, they did suspend him.I asked him, could you please not suspend him?It's just going to make things worse.The principal said, no, we have zero tolerance.We have to suspend him.

    • 02:01

      LORENN WALKER [continued]: So the boy was suspended.Luckily, I was doing this juvenile diversion project.And I was able to get a restorative conferencewith that boy and his family and my family.We met at the boy's former elementary school, whereboth of the boys had siblings.My other younger son went there.

    • 02:21

      LORENN WALKER [continued]: And the boy who hit my son, his younger sister went there.We all met together.People think of Hawaii as a melting potand we have many races and we all live together.And generally, everybody does get along.But there is some historical animositytowards white people in Hawaii.It's absolutely understandable.

    • 02:43

      LORENN WALKER [continued]: Hawaii was colonized by white missionary peoplewho did mistreat Hawaiians.Hawaiians were not allowed to speak their own language.They were told that they were pagan, that surfing was bad.They were made to feel bad about themselves.And so several hundred years later,

    • 03:06

      LORENN WALKER [continued]: there is a little animosity about white people in Hawaii.And Hawaii has the lowest percentageof white people of all the States.About 25%, 24% of the people who live in Hawaii are white.And white people in Hawaii are called "haole."And this to me is not a bad word.There's nothing wrong with it.

    • 03:27

      LORENN WALKER [continued]: It just means that you are white.That's what it means.In Hawaiian, "ha" means breath.And "ole" means without.And so when the Hawaiians first encountered Captain Cook,Captain Cook did not share his breathwith the Hawaiians, which was a ritual.

    • 03:48

      LORENN WALKER [continued]: So they said he was "haole"-- without breath.And today, there is some racial animosity.And so I was concerned because my son is white.And the boy that hit him is Native Hawaiian.Interestingly-- and not unusual--we had biases about the other family.

    • 04:11

      LORENN WALKER [continued]: And they had biases about us.I had heard that the father of the boy was an ex-con,he had been violent.The boy's family thought that my family, we were just white,haole people that were privilegedand had a house on the beach.

    • 04:31

      LORENN WALKER [continued]: And so we met.And I learned very quickly that this fatherwas a really good father and that he was not justan ex-convict.He was really a kind-hearted person.And he was trying to be the best parent he could.And he really loved his son.It gave me the opportunity to just see really good things

    • 04:52

      LORENN WALKER [continued]: about the boy, the boy who hit my son.Also, the father was able to find out that I was not justa privileged person.I had been a high school dropout.I had been involved with the juvenile justice systemmyself when I was a kid.And so that day, at the end of the restorative encounter,

    • 05:14

      LORENN WALKER [continued]: everyone felt better about each other.And we built social capital.We built relationship that lasted throughout the boy'seducation through 12th grade.The boys always got along.They never had another incident.Every time I would see the father--and it would be a couple times-- I'd

    • 05:37

      LORENN WALKER [continued]: see him like once every couple months,because we had younger children thatwere in the same age and group.And we always hugged each other.We had a lot of what we call in Hawaii "aloha" for each other.And the thing that I really knew that this restorative encounter

    • 05:57

      LORENN WALKER [continued]: worked for these boys was when they were in 12th grade,I had picked my son up from school, and I was driving home.And I had driven already for about five minutesfrom the school.And I saw the boy walking from the opposite direction.And I told my son, I said, oh, I wonder where he's been.And it was obvious to me that the boy had cut school,

    • 06:18

      LORENN WALKER [continued]: and he was quickly trying to walk back home.And my son said, Mom, he walks fast.And I realized that that restorative encounter reallydid mend the relationship between those kids.And they never had another problem.[What is restorative justice?]So restorative justice really helps

    • 06:39

      LORENN WALKER [continued]: kids learn from wrongdoing.And it helps parents who fear for their kids,like I feared my son was going to get into moreproblems with this boy.Another thing, too, that was really goodabout the restorative encounter with the boywas that my son and the principalof the elementary school where wehad the restorative encounter wasable to talk to him about being more open about his feelings

    • 07:02

      LORENN WALKER [continued]: and talking about how he felt, because hewas kind of a quiet kid, didn't talk much.And so he learned, too, what he could do to get along betterwith people.So restorative justice helps people in peacemaking.And we know that especially from the studies that Sampsondid in Chicago. [Robert Sampson] These studieslooked at different neighborhoods of Chicago.

    • 07:24

      LORENN WALKER [continued]: And they found that some neighborhoods wherethey had equal problems in economic resources--there are all kinds of problems-- the neighborhoodswere the same.But some of the neighborhoods had less violent crime.And so Sampson went and looked at,what could be the variable that is creating more peace in some

    • 07:48

      LORENN WALKER [continued]: of these pockets, some of these neighborhoodsthat have less crime?And what he found was that those neighborhoods that had lesscrime had more social capital.They had more informal social control.So if somebody saw a kid smoking cigarettes during school,an adult would go up and say, hey,

    • 08:09

      LORENN WALKER [continued]: what are you doing smoking cigarettes?How come you're not in school?And they interacted with the child.They had informal social control.Those communities had less crime.The restorative practice that we had with the boy's family,that was a social capital-building experience.

    • 08:30

      LORENN WALKER [continued]: And we want to learn from our experiences.It doesn't work to just tell peoplethat their behavior is bad.It doesn't work to be angry at someoneand say how bad they are for what they did.We need to give people the opportunityto listen and to hear and to not feel guilty.

    • 08:53

      LORENN WALKER [continued]: When people feel guilty about what they did,they become very self-absorbed.And they just think about themselves.And that doesn't help them to understand how their behaviorhas hurt someone else.And children especially need to learn this.One of the really powerful thingsabout restorative encounters is that it gives people

    • 09:14

      LORENN WALKER [continued]: the opportunity for emotional expression.People who have harmed other peoplefeel a great deal of shame often.And ironically, people who have been harmed,victims, they feel shame.The restorative encounter gives an opportunity to people

    • 09:35

      LORENN WALKER [continued]: to express that and to talk about it.Dealing with shame like this is really important.We know that people who are in prison and who commit crime,a lot of them are just guilt riddenand feel horrible shame about themselves.So having the opportunity to express itis very important for health and for having

    • 09:57

      LORENN WALKER [continued]: positive, peaceful behavior.Childhood and youth is the time when we make mistakes.And so schools especially should use restorative practices.I am not an advocate, however, for using restorative justiceall the time for really small infractions in a formal way.

    • 10:20

      LORENN WALKER [continued]: I think a school can have a restorative philosophy and dealrestoratively with wrongdoing in a way that is positiveand not going to single kids out and labelthem bully, things like that, and insteadlook at just general behavior.

    • 10:43

      LORENN WALKER [continued]: [Conclusion]Right now in the United States, thereseems to be a tendency to use restorative justicefor a lot of really minor things, which I don't thinkis a good idea.I would rather have restorative justice,these formal restorative practices--like what I was talking about, the circle of my family

    • 11:04

      LORENN WALKER [continued]: and that other boy's family-- those kind of processesshould be used for more serious thingslike assaults-- serious things.The other little, small infractions classroomscan deal with in a larger group circle.But we don't need to have the formal restorative practicesfor small infractions.

    • 11:24

      LORENN WALKER [continued]: And that's what we call net-widening.[net-widening] When you start bringing kids in for formalinterventions, any kind of intervention,it's net-widening.You make the scope of bad behavior bigger.And you make people feel like there

    • 11:46

      LORENN WALKER [continued]: is something wrong with them.And we don't want to do that.We want to normalize bad behavior, frankly.OK?We want to normalize bad behavior,look at it like an opportunity to learn from, and move on.Keep restorative justice-- use it for more serious offenses.Have whole school philosophies built on it.That's wonderful.But get your teachers, get your staff involved.

    • 12:09

      LORENN WALKER [continued]: Let them participate, too, in applying restorative justice.Don't just look at it like a discipline mechanismand use it just for discipline.Try to create a restorative atmosphere at school.Now, if you were a parent and your childdid something that hurt another child at school,

    • 12:32

      LORENN WALKER [continued]: would you rather your child attend a restorative schoolor a punitive school?Which kind of school would you want your child to attend?[Reflective Questions-- What kind of school would you wantyour child to attend ?]And if your child was like my child-- hit at school-- wouldyou rather have them be at a schoolwhere the person who did it is just expelled

    • 12:54

      LORENN WALKER [continued]: and never has an opportunity to meet with you and your childand to build friendship and peace?Which kind of school do you want, restorative or punitive?[MUSIC PLAYING]

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Restorative Justice for Schools

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Lorenn Walker discusses restorative justice in schools. She highlights her own experience with restorative justice and when it is appropriate to use in schools.

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Restorative Justice for Schools

Lorenn Walker discusses restorative justice in schools. She highlights her own experience with restorative justice and when it is appropriate to use in schools.

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