Responding to crime victims restoratively, involves patience.

“Patience is the companion of wisdom.”

-St. Augustine

I’ve had several experiences and opportunities to relate to crime vicitms.  These situations have come to me in a variety of ways.  Sometime I am simply relating about my work, explaining restorative justice and I get a new story about the process of being a crime victim.  I’ve heard stories while getting my eyes checked, while meeting about teaching a college class, during a first date.  When I do workshops and presentations, there is usually a person who follows up with me, and shares a story.

Of course, I have interacted with victims as part of preparing people for restorative justice process.  Sometimes the victimizing experience is clear, other times, offenders and parents involved in the process, have past experinces that they relate to me.

Restorative Justice promotes healing.  Restorative Justice is based on respect.  Harm is in the eye of the beholder.  As a restorative justice facilitator, you need to be aware of your own judgements, be patient with yourself and be patient with someone who has experienced crime.

Sometimes people focus on the harm, so much it “costs” them other aspects of well-being.  Sometimes the harm leaves people angry, revengeful and wanting to retaliate.  Normal stages in the process.  You cannot push an agenda on a victim.  You are there to witness and explore the persons agenda and needs as they explore if restorative justice is of interest.

It pays to be patient.  Trying to offer helpful suggestions or cliches often backfire.  Some feel it offensive to even be offered an apology.  Some feel offended that an apology was not made.  On occasion the “not guilty” plea causes great concern and harm is doubled for a crime victim.

Use patience and give victims permission to feel what they feel.  Be careful not react to angry expressions from vicims.  Be respectful, be a safe place.  Stay firm with compassion for victims and seek to fully understand their experience. 

Resist the urge to try and fix and rescue.  Remember, you don’t know what a person needs to experience on their journey to healing.  Be present.

I offer a few things I know about the experience of trauma.  Usually as I am describing the physical response to trauma (that our brains freeze frame moments) that become vivid memories years after the experience, and as part of a survival mechanism.  Often times, I can relate to a persons facial reaction, and simply ask if they are remember something or relating to that.  Be patient, and allow for a story to unfold.

When a victim can expess their story, they are on the journey to being able to cope with it.  Be patient with those not ready for the storytelling.  Be a person that they can start telling their story to.  The first step in coping is to be able to tell the story.  Coping is part of healing.  Often times the restorative justice practitioner is the start of a new chapter for a crime victim.  Be patient you are part of someones story and their is no need to rush to the end.  “Patience is the companion of wisdom.”

Restorative Justice blog advice, 6 tips for the practitioner or advocate.

I have been blogging for just over 2 years.  I started in September of 2008.  Right now the blog views are just over 81,000.  One of my blog role models, Penelope Trunk, has 60,000 subscribers to her blog (I have a handful, maybe two).   I also author two other blogs, and guest post whenever I can.

However, this project to be the first and most frequent Restorative Justice blogger, is working out really well.  My goal is to help others, and celebrate the rewards of being a blogger.  The post today offers some thoughts and advice on for those new to blogging.

1) write in your voice.  Try to write like you are telling someone the story.  I am often rehearsing what I am writing in my head, as if it is being said outloud.  The point of blogging is that relationship and using your own tone, builds that.  People what to relate to who you are.

2.)expand yourself.  Reach when you post, share your perspective, in a non-judgemental way.  Claim it as your opinion or experience.  I’ve posted things and had “bloggers remorse”.  Yet that nervousness has helped me understand my own boundaries and how I want my voice to be heard.

3.) have thick skin and an open mind.  Be ready for any type of feedback.  I shared a comment once and asked for some mentoring around it.  It was acknowledged as a “slap on the face”, yet I was complimented for reaping the learning from it.  It taught me if I could do that in a computer world, maybe I could work on it in real life.  I needed both thick skin and the open-ness to see and feel the lesson.  The same neutrality that helps Restorative Justice practitioners, helps when you blog.  Be aware of your bias, personal beliefs and perspectives.  Deliver your expressions openly, with that most important Restorative Justice value: respect.

4.)set your style.  Decide up front, what type of posts you want to be doing 500 words, 140 words.  Think about how much time you want people to spend on your blog.  Take time to set up the blog, pick out the widgets, backdrop, font with your style in mind.  You will be glad you have some parameters and goals.  Remember your theme or intention for blogging and relate your posts to that.  For Restorative Justice practitioners and advocates, you need to learn to tell the story without violating confidentiality and upholding the mission and vision of Restorative Justice.

5.)use your draft folder.  Ever get mad, send the email or letter before you should have?  Blogging for me is an emotional expression, when I feel passionate about something I can have a tendency to process that in my blog.  It has worked for me, in that I get positive feedback about some of the more personal posts.  I have also learned to put things in my draft folder, for later review.  Some posts never get published, yet I leave them as a reminder of what I was experiencing at a certain point in time.

6.)Relationship.  Restorative Justice is all about our relationships.  Think about the relationship to your blog, blog readers and self as a blogger.  This perspective will help you in your writing and development.  I think my skills at expressing myself have improved, as I wrote out my ideas and stories.  Be aware you are growing and developing relationships at every step of the way.  I have connected with many wonderful people as a result of this blog.

Good luck to you in blogging and restorative justice!

Coaching and conducting Circles outside of my schools and community.

The SCVRJP logo has 3 swirls.  The swirls represent the triad’s of restorative justice.  Most important is to remember that Victim, Offender and Community – are 3 entities that compose restorative justice process.

It is so easy to only serve one group.

On a coaching and demonstrating visit to a school, I recommended they get community members in Circles.  By taking the “at-risk” kids and making a Circle for them, (very well intended).  They are creating more “us” & “them” than intended.  By they way, these kids were beyond “at-risk” they were some tough young people.   They needed peer role models in the Circle, they needed an increased sense of community rather than to be isolated with other “trouble-makers”.

When it came down to leading, demonstrating the Circles I got the job done.  I got the group to do pretty well with Circle (for me first engagement with them).  I had students with me, so that helped.  I had to use all I could to get them to even be silent one at a time.  It was a challenge and opportunity for my skills, and what I teach teachers to do in Circle.

We used silence activities.  For example, passing the talking piece until you feel your silence is heard.  Most the young people couldn’t be quiet up until that time, for fear of not getting noticed.  I used lots and lots of non-judgemental language and guidelines for making the Circle work. 

When the talking piece was not in play, I saw some signs (hand gestures) going back and forth.  I dove in with a piece!  “Tell us what you think listening looks like!” and encouragement  “Let’s all look at the person talking so we are sure to understand each and every person.”  I had to role model listening and so did the staff. 

At the end of that Circle, I asked for something they did well in the Circle.  Not only did they offer that they listened, they offered that they appreciated being heard.  Well in terms relevant for the group.  Self-disclosure about not being heard in my family, and  “it was good to be heard in the Circle, even if it was only my silence” left me knowing I introduced the process.

If we want to shift cultures in our schools, we HAVE GOT to use community members.  We have to use Circles for the entire community, those at risk situations and those situations in which harm has occured.  Using the model in one classroom will not change the school.  Implementing a change in climate means getting as many people involved in the process as possible.

I was hired to train at a school and the staff had evaluated restorative justice at another district.  A story shared during training made me 1.)glad everyone heard this and 2) validated the use of Circle as a training technique.  The story, and I don’t ever forget this one . . . visiting staff, asked students how they deal with teasing and bullying, the answer was: “that doesn’t happen at our school”.

If you hire me to come train your school, build in the days for me to come and visit, to coach and help implement.  It will help.

Atten Schools! Violence prevention and conflict resolution solutions that work!

The Saturday Pioneer Press, front page story: Friend Me, Fight Me.  Short version, issues outside of school, erupted at school and a Mother is very, very upset.

I shake my head.  I get confused.  My google alert for ‘Restorative Practices’ has changed over time.  In the last year the references have moved from dental and yoga articles, to articles about Restorative Justice methods in schools.  The philosophy is generally the same.  As a movement “practices” emerged for schools and  “justice” stayed for community or system services.  I maintain what I do as School-based Restorative Justice.  There is a quote about peace & justice, that for me, justifies the word justice when working in schools.

Here is why, well implemented Restorative Justice would have helped in the ‘Friend Me, Fight Me’ situation.

1.) Prevention – building up the climate and culture of your school, prevents violence.  Isolating grade levels, dividing students out creates “us” and “them”.  By hosting Circle in a school, students get to know each other.  The more you know about someone the less likely you are to hurt them.  What is it . . . an ounce of prevention is more than a pound of cure.  This is where teachers push back on the trainer . . . time, we don’t have time.  I train them, you can select how you use your time.  Use community building circles as part of academic delivery!  Teach in Circle, if kids feel safe, they learn more!  Test scores can increase by using school-based restorative justice!  I suspect the ‘Friend Me, Fight Me’ could have been avoided in an environment where violence prevention was emphasized and implemented WELL.

2.)Values/Citizenship – when schools or communities create more rules, then people focus on how to not get caught breaking that rule.  Students need to learn how they are impacting people.  You need to teach them to listen, in order to teach empathy.  The ‘Friend Me, Fight Me’ story is a great example.  The students thought about having it at school, so teachers would break it up!  Students are aware of where they can have behaviors so they will get caught or not.  School-based Restorative Justice teaches and informs you of how important who you are is.  By acknowledging that everyone is a social, emotional, mental and spiritual being we allow space for non-judgemental self-expression.  Students no longer have to “prove” themselves, because they are being heard.  Most of the “proving” is to identify with a negative culture, because unfortunately, we have a lot of work to do on our climate and culture.   Young men defend their “honor” and when taunted to fight, rather than be accepted for who they are  . . . ‘Friend Me, Fight Me’

3.)Inclusion – School-based Restorative Justice, had it been in place (and been implemented well)  for ‘Friend Me, Fight Me’ would have resulted in a conflict resolution that involved those most impacted.  In the photo the Mom is standing over her son.  She would have been involved in the process to repair the harm.  She would have been given a ‘say’ about what needed to happen.  The support people around each student would have been given opportunity to share their voices.  Students who have authored a harmful act, hear from the direct target and BYSTANDERS, which is so very important.

4.)Solution focused – None of us can change the past.  Understanding why someone did something is important to move ahead.  Operating, in the moment to respond and repair things, and then moving to the future and making agreements and commitments is part of school-based restorative justice.  I just wonder if this type of method, vs the formal suspension, expulsion could have prevented the front page splash for Anoka School District.   I can hear the push back . . . students need discipline.  Yes, they do.   Restorative discipline does not mean a “time out” doesn’t happen, it means it is done in a manner that includes those most impacted, focusing on accountability and healing. 

It is a shift to turn matters over to Circles and accept the outcomes they create.  From seeing more and more things in the paper about schools and bullying, schools and social media, schools and violence, I continue to advocate for Restorative Practices, School-Based Restorative Justice, Restorative Measures, what ever you call it if it is the philosophy and it is done well.  Amen.

As a side, this mornings Google Alert gave me lots of hope, of the 10 results only 2 were not about Restorative Justice!  Here are the results:

News4 new results for restorative practices
Conflict resolution tool coming to schools
Boulder DA: Police should step back from school discipline
Daily Camera
“We definitely have a restorative practices philosophy to all of our discipline,” said Michele DeBerry, director of athletics, activities, attendance and …

MPS honors prosecutor for restorative justice efforts
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
MPS now enjoys an army of restorative practices advocates,”

Justice, community and discipline in Oakland schools (Community …
Oakland Local
According to Barbara McClung of OUSD’s Complementary Learning

Blogs4 new results for restorative practices
Sacrament of Reconciliation and Restorative Justice | Theology as …
By Jacques Haers
Theology as a Process –

What is Restorative Yoga? | Yoga Matrika

Restorative Circles: Justice without Classism
By Jerry Koch-Gonzalez
This alternative justice system exists in a variety of forms knows as restorative justice and restorative practices.

Class Action – –
‘Restorative Justice’ School Program Reduces Student Delinquency
Shared by Yvette Vignando – The International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP) provides education, consulting and research supporting the ……/med

Storytelling for Victim Impact Panels or Restorative Justice.

12 Restorative  Storytelling Tips

  1. Speak from the heart.  Share your experience and perspectives, be completely honest, don’t edit or modify what you have to say based on assumptions about the audience.  This is your experience to share.  You can be real without being offensive, when you speak from your heart.
  2. Follow the 4 stages.  You may be tempted to start at the beginning chronologically, to be logical.  A “change of behavior by a change of heart” is a restorative justice slogan.  Emotions do not require rational, logical presentation, to be felt or experienced.
  3. Stage 1, Intro.  Tell us about who you are, where you live, what your work or hobbies include.  This gives you a moment to get in your storytelling zone and to get a feel for your presentation and audience.
  4. Stage 2, Incident.  This is what happened from your perspective and experience.  People who experience trauma were going about their lives and suddenly an incident changed the course forever.  Simply explain the incident.
  5. Stage 3, Impact.  Share what you have and are feeling, hearing, thinking and, doing on physical, mental, emotional and spiritual levels.  How have you been changed, how have those around you changed?
  6. Stage 4, Reflection.  This is the part of your story to reflect back on how and why you are story telling.  This is where you can share what you hope for the audience.  You can relate what telling the story does for you, why you tell this story.
  7. Use details.  Small details have a HUGE impact.  When you give people the color of a car, season of the year, a sound, a holiday, they get a mental picture.  These details help in describing the story.
  8. Restorative Perspective.  Please review the mission, vision and values of SCVRJP.  We respect all individuals that engage with the program.  The quickest way to shut down a listener is to judge them.  Present your perspective, your experience and avoid statements of opinion or judgment.

9.  Emotions are ok.  Tears are healing, restorative storytelling is healing.  If you become overwhelmed or emotional that is ok.  You do not need to say you are sorry; it may help to acknowledge what you are feeling in that moment.  Take a few deep breaths, gently bite your tongue if needed and continue. 

10. Tell your story.  Try to avoid reading from a script.  The four stages can be remembered by assigning them to bases on a ball field.  You do not have to be perfect or say the same thing every time.

11.  Eye Contact.  Find people in the room that are listening.  Take the opportunity to look at those you are speaking with.  Eye contact builds trust.  Defenses may rise and people may even project negative body language when in fact they are being deeply impacted.

12. Generosity is appreciated.  We know you are giving.  By telling this story in hopes of helping others you are a giver.  People appreciate those willing to give of themselves.  SCVRJP staff will support you at all steps, and are available to discuss any concerns, questions, ideas that you may have.

 How the 12 tips improve restorative storytelling

Restorative storytelling is designed to help both the speaker and the listener.  The goal is to bring healing to those impacted and those that have caused harm.  The stories are used to motivate others regarding future choices.  Often times we know our listeners have made a similar choice already.  Our goal is to leave people with immediate, short and long term benefits, highlighted below.


Tip Benefit to speaker Benefit to listener
  1. 1.   From the heart
You get to integrate your experience genuinely by speaking directly about it.

Often times we screen what we say to friends and family, considering their thoughts, perspectives and feelings.  This is a chance for you to speak about your experience.

Listeners appreciate a genuine and real person.  When you see someone being themselves, they become someone you can relate to. Honesty, even when the topic is difficult, is still respected. Speaking from the heart is a positive thing to witness.
  1. 2.   Four Stages
This gives you an outline to follow; if you get emotional speaking you can easily remember which stage. The story flows in a manner that builds connections, identifies the risk and inspires different choices.
  1. 3.   Intro
A trauma leaves you feeling like you are a different person that you don’t even know.  This will help remind you that you are still you.  These things about you don’t change. Listeners can connect to general things about the speaker.  Common things like hobbies, employment, siblings, are things listeners can connect to. Once connected you are more impacted.
  1. 4.   Incident
Trauma can leave PTSD; talking about it helps.  By describing the events that impacted you, you can begin to make sense of it in a different way, a way that helps you heal. Hearing about an incident brings the reality of risk.  Firsthand accounts help people realize just how real the risk is. Incidents can be dismissed as “happens to others” until heard firsthand.
  1. 5.   Impact
Everyone experiences trauma differently.  By sharing your impact, you can relate the pieces hardest for you.  You are actually working with the oldest part of your brain and releasing the experience and by being in the safety of telling the story you are improving your coping. Impact gives people a deeper perspective in how they could have and how people experience trauma.  The impact is a place where listeners realize how they would have felt and this motivates them to avoid these difficult experiences.
  1. 6.   Reflection
This allows you to describe the meaning you are going to make of this trauma.  This allows you to offer to others what you might have done differently.  This is a place where you have control over what happened.  This is a place to share your motivations for sharing, something others may not always understand. This brings the story to reality for listeners.  They understand how deeply changed people are.  This is a stage where hope is clear.  The non-judgmental sharing impacts people; they are given an opportunity to decide for themselves future actions.
  1. 7.   Details
Our brains remember snapshots as we experience trauma, small details remain in our memory.  By speaking about them we reduce the impact of flashbacks or being negatively impacted.  Sharing these details gives further reality and integration to our experiences. Details benefit the listener, by giving set points for the story.  The next time they see a red truck or drive past the funeral home mentioned, they can think of the story and the emotion felt when it was shared.  Local details stay with people longer.
  1. 8.   Restorative
Restorative approaches promote healing.  By speaking without judgment you are supported in directions of hope and coping rather than staying in stages of anger and resentment. Restorative Justice approaches deal with the social and emotional aspects of crime. Storytelling is the means to deliver the message. Participants expect to be put down, and when they are provided an experience and the opportunity to decide, people are more responsive.
  1. 9.   Emotions
Trauma hurts our emotional state, things that are emotional need expressing. Tears are healing by getting emotional you are facilitating healing and bearing witness to your experience. Humans are equipped with mirror neurons, when we see someone cry, it triggers a response for us. When we are touched to tears, we will remember the circumstances.
10. Telling When you tell your story, you are demonstrating your ability to talk about it. You are establishing an ability to cope by relating the experience. When you tell it you are able to speak to the parts that impact you at that telling. Defenses protect us; it is easier to dismiss someone reading than it is someone telling. By seeing a person get up and talk, listeners realize the task of public speaking is not easy.  Listeners are generally impressed to see someone share experiences.
11. Eye Contact It may feel awkward or uncomfortable at first. Over time you will begin to build confidence. Talk to the person you are looking at; consider one person at a time. You can look at staff or volunteers for support. People find speakers with good eye contact to be credible. Knowing the speaker is looking at you helps listeners stay engaged. Eye contact builds an understanding that the speaker is committed to helping.
12. Generosity Volunteers often find that helping others helps themselves. Volunteering eases depression and general health and well-being. Giving your story is giving a piece of your life for the greater good of others. It helps people talk about the experience in a constructive environment. Listeners have often done the same risky behavior that the story is about. Storytellers have often been harmed by the same hurt. Sharing demonstrates a caring for those that deserve it least. This type of giving often leaves listeners feeling obligated to do the right thing.

Daughter helps Mother heal, thanks for Christmas!

One of the aspects I teach about Restorative Justice is having a “healing approach”.  This means embracing a core belief that all things hold healing potential.  I mix in “compassionate listening” which taught me that we all have wounds, and that we need to relate to each other from our core, rather than our wounds.  I have a story about my own healing to share.

I live my life, or I should say, I try to live my life as a restorative person.  This means I am mindful of my relationships to others, I try to treat everyone and everything with respect.  This has evolved over time, it is a cycle of learning, growing, re-learning and practice.

Once upon a time I was 18 years old.  I was a college freshman.  It was the first Christmas, after I left for college.  My Mom has spent 5 years battling Cancer.  I never told my family that I practically begged my employer to have me work over the Christmas Holiday.  I just said that I had to work.  The truth was, I couldn’t face the facts.  These facts included that my Mom probably wouldn’t see the next Christmas.  I made it home to the farm, a day or so after Christmas.  I didn’t get my Mom a gift.  I couldn’t face selecting something for her “last Christmas”.  I didn’t realize this at the time, I just sort of did this avoidance without realizing the “how and why” of my behavior.

That holiday, my Mom had a melt down.  She made her feelings about not getting a gift from me perfectly clear.  She was upset.  It really, really bothered her.  I shut down.  It was a painful and ugly scene.  It has been 24 years since that Christmas.  I’ve been holding this wound, some guilt about how I behaved at 18.

This year is my daughters first Christmas away from home, she is 18.  Two years ago I started telling her that I wanted her to spend the first Christmas after she moved out, with me.

I didn’t make the connection back to the last Christmas with my Mom, until last night when my daughter called me to say she was off work, able to spend Christmas with me.  I felt a sigh of relief.  I felt encouraged about our relationship.  I want to be a good Mom.  That’s a lie, I want to be a GREAT Mom.  I loved my Mom, I had no idea at 18 how to show her.  I didn’t have what it took to have an “end of life” conversation with her.  I didn’t know how to express myself through my pain.  I didn’t want to say something that would hurt her.  I ended up hurting her more by avoiding.

My daughter’s task is not to help me heal.  Her task is to grow into her potential as a dynamic individual.  I am confident that she will.  All of us, we have the capacity to help each other heal when we are kind and generous to each other.  Sometimes we will get to know we helped someone and sometimes now.

Restorative Justice takes kindness and generosity.  I like to use a ‘getting acquainted’ question, that asks people what they would be doing if they were not at the Circle.  It reminds all of us we decided to be in Circle.  Community members make it clear, they decided to step forward and help.  Great relationships are built when you go out of your way for another person.  Great relationships also help us heal.  In the Mother-daughter-mother triad, we get lots of opportunities.  I now have one to pay forward.

Cancer, conflict and hair products.

My sister-in-law has leukemia.  She was diagnosed just 3 months ago.  It has shaken our family.  I am so proud of how my brother, Scott and his wife, Megan have handled this.  I went out and stayed a month.  It changed me in ways that I just don’t even know yet.  Beyond giving their family support, I learned more about myself.  Appreciation for health and life is always good, unfortunately that renewed appreciation comes at the expense of a diagnosis of Cancer.

As life would have it, just 3 weeks before the diagnosis my brother and his wife, daughter 7, sons 4 & 1 all met at the farm in South Dakota.  My brother also has older children, all 3 came to the farm, my daughter also joined us.  In the hulla-balou that is large families we had a day where grandma and my daughter had hair appointments.  Megan stopped in to get her eyebrows waxed at the beauty salon.  I was absorbed in the beauty and gossip magazines, but I did notice a few things.

When Megan came to the salon, she had been at the pool with her family.  She was slighty windblown and looked tired.  I remember thinking how pretty she was and that my brother was fortunate, because she really is a sweet person.  When she left she climbed into my brothers pride and joy, his big truck.  Such a petite woman for the big truck, but I remember thinking how Megan is only small in stature.  I thought she looked beautiful as I watched her drive away.

Now her beauty is different.  She has big brown eyes that peek out from her cute hats.  She is frequently wearing her UGG boots and they cause a little shuffle noise when she walks.  She’s still generous in nature.  She’s given me hair products, makeup and space in her home to help take care of her and the kids.

The title of this blog includes hair products.  When I use my gifts from Megan, a few slightly used products of “root blast” or “super shine”, it goes much deeper.  I think about her and imagine how life that was “just going along”.  She dismissed symptoms of night sweats, mouth sores, fatigue, the terrible headaches.  There was no dismissing the diagnosis on August 25, 2010.  There was no dismissing the admission to the hospital.  No dismissing the chemotherapy that started 48 hours later.

The blog title includes conflict.  Conflict is a part of relationships.  How we respond to conflict is a skill we can develop.  Some people develop the skill at being “good” at conflict.  Fighting is all they know.  Some people can develop skills that they allow conflict and respond by making things better than worse.  Conflict comes from within and we have to deal with how we see the world and experience frustrations and anger with others.  Conflict comes from outside and when people address us negatively or values of “mine” don’t match “yours”.

I’ve worked through some conflict recently because I can see from a life that was “just going along” how precious we all really are.  I can see that being angry is a waste of time.  I use some hair products from someone without hair and it makes me humble.  Being humble resolves conflict.  Being humble is not backing down, being humble is remembering the bigger picture in life and honoring what is really important.

 I thought sharing this might offer you a perspective as well.

School-based Restorative Justice is PBIS (positive behavioral interventions & supports)

This website has an informative video on PBIS.  They use a triangle and what I have known and taught as a public health model, primary, secondary, tertiary or universal, selected and indicated.  For years, I’ve been teaching the use of restorative justice classroom circles – to address all students.  I’ve been teaching these three categories in workshops and trainings.

In my trainings with teachers I would engage the audience by asking for a volunteer, I would offer that the audience could help “volunteer” people.  I asked for the “universal student” the one that teachers did not have to worry about the “rule” follower.  That person came to the front of my presentation area.

I then asked for another volunteer, the “at-risk” student.  The one who you knew was on the edge.  Maybe things at home weren’t 100% or this student challenged the rules.  The audience would call out a co-worker and send them up.

Finally I asked for the person to represent the student that got in trouble.  The audience was usually more comfortable and sent forward a staff with laughs.

I’ve done this will lots of groups.  I use the three standing at the front of the room as props.  I ask audience about seeing themselves in all three people, all three levels (primary, secondary, tertiary) or (universal, selected and indicated).

I take people by the elbow and move them around.  I demonstrate when we take the student who caused harm out of the classroom or school.  Remove them without communication to the other two, we make the climate, less trustworthy.  I ask the group, of those that were harmed by this student, who were they.  The teachers/audience can see if was probably one of the other two students.

I show how school-based restorative justice helps give voice to the victim, the bystanders and helps them ALL be involved in the problem-solving, conflict resolution.  Giving students the chance to explain to each other how they see positive behaviors and how students themselves can benefit from a peaceful school climate.

I have studied shapes for years now.  I like how this triangle demonstrates the three groupings.  I have also learned that the triangle can represent power.  Even though the top of the triangle is 1-5% is that the group with “power” in our schools.  If you consider “power” being influence over others.  How much time do we spend responding when there is a seriously violent incident?

My heart went out to the community in Marinette, WI after a student held classmates hostage and killed himself. (Summary article).  I could only think how if we address the needs of victims, we could prevent these types of incidents.

It seems the person who is hurt, eventually will retaliate with a perceived justification to right earlier wrongs.

I see School-based Restorative Justice as very efficient, PBIS and I know schools around the nation are being pushed to implement these strategies.  The website PBIS.ORG, is full of helpful presentations and I see restorative justice as part of every item I reviewed.

Good reminders about Restorative Justice Circles and Circlekeeping.

I’m sorry my current blog format does not show comments.  I hope that you click on the comment button to read what others are saying.  In case you didn’t see this comment from Amos, I wanted to share it.  Full of some good reminders, thanks Amos!

It’s helpful to me to remember this: Circles are amazingly resilient, and their power to connect can overcome most of our unskillful actions as keepers. I have been very frustrated in the past when observing circle keepers doing things in some “wrong” way—but then, when I listened considered the outcomes of the circle, I had the sense that things worked out just fine; when this happens I think “what do I know?”. Certainly the circle knows better than I do.

I personally feel that there are a set of specific skills and behaviors for circle keepers to cultivate, and the more effectively these are applied the deeper the circle goes. But even more important than a catologue of the right ways to do things is the principle of congruence: the circle works best when we keep in a way that is true and authentic for who we are. So, for example, I don’t use native american paraphernalia; it just isn’t me. But also I notice when things change for me over time; not so long ago it “wasn’t me” to invite participants to contribute to creating a center for the circle. But having experienced the power of doing so as a member of a circle, I “got it”– and now do so routinely and authentically. This points out another important aspect of keeping circles: also participate on a regular basis in circle where you are not the keeper. Both sides of the experience are potent and wonderful.