OP-ED: Restorative Justice Isn’t Fluff, It’s an Investment in the Future
by Judge George Timberlake, Retired
To read this article on the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange website, click here.
In juvenile justice circles, I often hear repeated comments that go something like this: “Schools just call the cops. Many have stated policies that teachers and administrators cannot intervene physically and suspension or expulsion is required. These policies widen the net for the juvenile justice system leading to prosecution, detention — and sometimes prison.”
Another comment recited in conversation is that it “used to be that a teacher broke up fights, referred the students to the principal for ‘the talk’ and for parental notification, and that ended school involvement.” Of course, the reason for the conflict might not be addressed, and conflict often continues. The trauma of a physical battle might linger for a lifetime.
Some search for better responses to this type of situation, and I recently learned of a good result in an Illinois institution. An administrator contacted a community group which has trained mediators experienced in attempting to resolve conflict in just this type of fight. They agreed to consider an intervention.