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Educating for Peacebuilding
Restorative Action: Changing School Culture
Restorative Action is changing the culture in British Columbia schools. This initiative has grown out of the need to create safe schools through an effective, sustainable approach that does not rely on punishment and isolation to deal with discipline issues. Restorative Justice based approaches give frustrated parents and educators alike additional strategies for effectively addressing misbehavior, the underlying issues responsible for that behavior, and harm that occurs as a result.
In June 2000, a partnership was born when the Langley School District #35 (SD35) and Community Justice Initiatives Association (CJI) agreed to work together to explore how Restorative Justice principles might be applied throughout the local school system. The focus on these principles, which we call "Restorative Action" in the school context, encourages responses to harm and discipline issues that are needs-based and promote healing and accountability.
Students in the Langley School District were recently asked why they joined their schools' Restorative Action Team.
CJI offers regular presentations and educational sessions about Restorative Action to raise awareness across the school district.
- In secondary schools, we have developed a curriculum called Conversation Peace for students, parents and staff, which prepares the trainees to be called upon when conflict in the school arises. We have trained students and staff at seven secondary schools to date and are pleased to see how conflicts are being handled in these schools.
- In elementary schools, we have offered Restorative Action training and awareness to the teachers, who then bring the teaching to their classrooms. We also have staff from CJI and the school district prepared to respond restoratively to more serious issues that arise in school environments. CJI has developed an elementary school resource, Talking Peace which offers an easy-to-use guide for building safer, more respectful classroom environments.
CJI, along with our partners, is aiming for a systemic effect of changing school culture, and we are encouraged by individual students, parents and educators who are learning skills and changing their worldview one by one. We have often heard students say they like our training because they are now better able to listen to their friends and show care and empathy.
One secondary student remarked "My friends say I'm listening to them now. They don't know what's happened to me!"
A school teacher stated to us, "I never really took the time to listen before without any personal agenda. I was amazed when the person thanked me for listening and said she had better clarity on how to solve her problem...when I hadn't told her to do anything!"
Our goal of culture change will take years of consistent hard work. However, we are encouraged to continue because of individual interactions that reveal how developing a restorative mindset can be life-changing for the individuals and those around them.
For more information, download a copy of the program's brochure.
CJI has recently published a book titled "Educating for Peacebuilding: Implementing restorative justice principles and practices in a school system" by Catherine Bargen. It is a lively account of the successes, failures, challenges, lessons learned and the ongoing efforts in bringing about positive culture change in school communities.
We gratefully acknowledge the generous support of Coast Capital Savings, Edith Lando Foundation, TD Bank and the Langley Rotaries for this program.
We acknowledge the financial support of the Province of British Columbia.
Grade 12 Scholarship for 2014 is now closed.
CJI provides scholarships to Grade 12 students in Langley. Students must be graduating in 2014 and be involved in the Restorative Action program in their school. The application deadline date is May 31, 2014.
Support these deserving students by donating to the CJI Scholarship Fund. The scholarship amount is dependant on the financial support we receive from people like you. Donate securely through the PayPal Donate button below. Donations of $25 or more are tax receiptable.
All scholarship enquires can be sent via email or phone at 604-534-5515.