Daily Archives: November 10, 2009

Book Review: Taking Restorative Justice to Schools – J. Holtham

Taking RJ to Schools

Taking Restorative Justice to Schools, by Jeanette Holtham is the most recent addition to a School-Based Restorative Justice advocate or practitioner’s toolkit.  The book is a brief, concise and comprehensive review of Restorative Justice in the School setting.

In the hands of an administrator, the authors “real life experience”, voice was apparent.  I read the book from start to finish, immediately.  I took the book to a recent meeting, and placed it in the hands of a school principal.  The school staff, picked up on the book acknowledging that teachers are busy with checking for head lice.  The other feedback was an appreciation for books on Restorative Justice being brief.  A reality that as we bring more restorative justice to schools, outsiders heading in, we are starting to get it from our friends on the inside.

The outside/inside reference is just speaking about where a schools program emerges.  I encourage everyone to form a partnership matching internal and external leadership.  Programs that have started outside with the goal of coming into schools bring lots of experience.  Internal school staff wanting to implement have all the insider information on bringing trainings, language and structure to successful implementation.

Regardless where a program begins, students are part of the process.  On page 9, Holtham says

 “Youth take to Restorative Justice like kites to flying.  They are ideal candidates for its benefits.  Kids instinctively resonate with the concepts of fairness and justice.”

I appreciated this quote and here in the midwest, we say “like fish to water”.  It really makes sense if you think of Restorative Justice as the air or water, kite or fish being the participants.  You see this is the whole approach aspect to using Restorative Justice, is making part of the culture and community.

I appreciate seeing the growth of school-based restorative justice in the United States, I feel fortunate to be part of a social movement.  Check out this book, it’s a good read!


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