I am back to Bikram yoga, and its a tough type of yoga. Somewhere in the intensity of getting thru the class physically, these emotional “ah-ha’s” occur. When the yoga teacher was encouraging us to be patient in our learning of the poses, she told us this:
The longer it takes to learn it, the longer you will have the skill.
This was the answer to a recent dilemma I have been facing. People want Restorative Justice training, Circle facilitator training in a quick fix. I recently emailed other leaders/keepers asking what they thought of this. I had been asked by a school to go from 2 days to 1/2 a day. In addition as hard as I try to explain to teachers, learn Circle, do Circle, then do a Circle that addresses conflict. The focus is always on how to solve something, rather than use the process as a skill builder. Once the skills are in place, then use the process and the people with the skills to address conflict or repair harm.
I’ve been called in to try and clean up when the process had weak even harmful outcomes. I was glad to hear from the person calling, that they understood the person doing restorative justice, wasn’t really doing it. Despite it being called restorative justice. Restorative Justice is not JUST getting the parties involved together.
Thats the problem if you don’t take time to learn more about it. You stop learning, you stop at getting those involved together. Its much more, it’s the type of questions, it’s the approach to repair the harm. There are specific skills involved in doing restorative justice, it takes time to develop these skills. Then to learn how best you apply them, the when and where.
I really believe restorative justice is more than a fad. I believe that if we remain consistent that a whole school approach, or a community wide engagement of restorative justice as best practice we can get more done. If we use RJ early and often, we can prevent deeper involvement for youth in the juvenile justice system. Keep youth out of the system, WHILE protecting the community and changing behavior, you reduce the amount of adults in the system. That domino effect will address our prison problem.
I just did an interview for a student writing a paper. I explained how New Zealand and Ireland have implemented Restorative Justice as a front line approach to juvenile justice. A follow question about how SCVRJP is doing it. It made me a little sad, to think we haven’t really seen many referrals for juveniles lately.
It’s taken me awhile to learn it, but I have the skill. It’s time to go back and try to work on our diversion, early intervention and pre-system points for referrals. Restorative Justice studies show excellent outcomes. It can be frustrating to put efforts in and not have the people with influence for referring cases and utilizing the program. At least I have learned that being angry and frustrated doesn’t help. Its taken a long time to learn that, so I’ll have that for a long time!
I can focus on two things from the yoga teacher – encouraging others to take time to learn Restorative Justice so they have it longer. The other thing, is to embrace what has taken me a long time to learn!
If you are learning restorative justice, take your time, the results from understanding and knowing it completely will produce better outcomes! I know this from doing this a long time!