As an RJ [Restorative Justice] leader I can personally say that meetings and circles are very successful. After our 9 student leaders were chosen we were put through training to make sure we knew how to properly run a fair, unbiased circle. From what I have seen from my experiences Restorative Justice gives students a second chance to take responsibility for their actions.
Student leaders listen to both sides of the story and stay open-minded. We must do this because our goal is to have both the offender and victim to have closure…not to pick which side is right. Restorative Justice allows both offender and victim to keep a clean record, and allows a second chance to fix any damage that has been done. This training makes sure we know how to handle different types of situations…because it makes sure we give everyone a fair chance.
In our circles we talk out what happened and it lets both victim and offender state out their side of the story. This allows any miscommunication to be said and get back to what really happened. We get down to where the problem started and why things that were said were said. It keeps a safe school environment and it helps our school data go up. Restorative Justice gives students a second chance to talk and lets them keep a clean record. Since there is no more drama students can focus on school instead of the drama. Type your paragraph here.
~ Rose Gonzales, 8th grade student, Carmel Middle School
Restorative Justice has helped me in a positive way with my peers and teacher I have had conflict with. It has given me a new point of view and a way to look at others perspective on why they do things a certain way and how I react to a situation. I have been in restorative justice more than once but in both instances it has helped me. The first time I had a physical altercation with one of my fellow peers, we did Restorative Justice and had the chance to be in the same room to speak our own minds and see both sides of the same story. That gave me a different view of the situation and to this day he is one of my closest friends.
The second Restorative Justice I was in was with a fellow peer and my teacher that we both had conflict with and the way he would call us out in class, but because of Restorative Justice now I see that he has to stress over everyone in the class and he has expectations for each and every one of us. I also learned that the principal holds results and expectations for the teacher, just like the teacher does for us. What I learned about him is now I see why he is the way he is, but in many ways we are much alike. We come from a similar background which I wouldn’t have known if it wasn’t for Restorative Justice. Thanks to Restorative Justice we can now be in the same environment without any hostile feelings toward each other.
~ Yomell Mondragon, 11th grade student at Career Readiness Academy
Each of them has won a $100 gift card to the Chapel Hills Mall in Colorado Springs!
I was born in the Central African Congo. I have seen conflict in Africa and it made me feel scared and afraid. Being peaceable means being committed to growing.
Restorative Justice has encouraged me to communicate clearly with people that I don’t know, even if I’m unsure that what I’m saying is important to them. You have to love people and peace in your life, which requires communication. As a peacemaker, I need to have a loving heart inside of me when I communicate.
Something that I learned from the peacemaking circle is the leadership practice of deep listening and storytelling to build trust and strengthen relationships. When I hear we we’re going to make peace to the people of my school, I started to be scared because it is not easy to forgive and I asked myself a lot of questions. “Is it easy for me to talk to others?” I always worried about thinking to talk to someone, and especially someone I do not know. They might ask: 'What should I talk about? How can I set up a conversation? How can I maintain the conversation? How will they react to what I say?” On the other hand, those who are inexperienced and friendly may have the tendency to dominate the conversation. It may be difficult for others to express themselves and to learn to be responsive. So, all of us need to keep developing our conversation skills.
I learned also when we are caring, we communicate and listen when someone else wants to talk. The best part about this was that when I listen to others, I can learn from them and find ways to be successful in my own life. That is why Restorative Justice has been a positive impact on my life.
~ Cyalibwa Mahuno, 11th grade student at Harrison High School
Imagine a conflict that has been happening in your school. As you see the conflict get bigger and bigger you wish there was a place that students could resolve their conflict and have a better relationship toward the end. That safe space can be found in the Restorative Justice group.
Being a part of this group as a student leader I saw many cases that have involved many students and end up having a different meaning at the end. In one case I saw that both students are friends, but a teacher misunderstood how they act toward each other. Some cases have more than one person involved in the conflict. For example, I was grateful to take part in one where three students had a conflict with one individual person. We found out what was the problem and we used the problem to create a solution. We made an agreement that all the students that were involved in the conflict agreed to.
Having a program like this helps the school in so many ways. The school can benefit from having this program not only because it makes the school look better, but it would help students feel much safer in school. It would lower conflict and make more schools come together as one big whole community. Not only schools can benefit but teachers and students can learn from this program. I would recommend this program to any schools.
~ Josvel Galaviz Acosta, 12th grade student, Sierra High School