Emotional Resilience is defined as the ability to adapt to stressful situations or crises – to function competently, powerfully and peacefully when dealing with conflict or adversity.

Resilience is not a quality that one does or does not possess; there are varying degrees to one’s ability to handle stress and conflict. Still, resilient people tend to share certain traits. These include:

  • Perspective - the ability to learn from mistakes (rather than deny them), see obstacles as challenges, allow adversity to make one stronger, and find meaning in life’s challenges rather than becoming a victim to events.

  • Responsibility - the ability to be responsible and thoughtful rather than impulsive.

  • Support - While they tend to be strong individuals, resilient people know the value of social support and are able to surround themselves with supportive friends and family in difficult times. (Mills and Dombeck)

The Restorative Justice Movement has re-discovered and adapted ways for communities to promote resiliency, perspective, responsibility and healing while dealing with the repercussions of conflict. These processes and programs are gaining currency in communities around the country and the world. Frustrated by the inability of traditional systems to address the needs of the community – most of which are based on a retributive model – justice system workers, school teachers, administrators and advocates have adopted and are experimenting with different approaches and responses to incidents in which harm has occurred. “The aim of restorative programs is to reintegrate those affected by wrongdoing back into the community as resilient and responsible members. “(Adam Graycar, Director of Schools, Australian Capital Territory).

Restorative Justice Circles (RJC) in particular, is a restorative justice process that can be customized for any school or other institution. RJC encompasses the following principles:

  • Where there has been harm, the community that has been affected comes together

  • The needs of the victim, the offender, and the community are all interrelated

  • These interrelated needs can be effectively addressed in a restorative justice process, where everyone is given the opportunity to talk to each other directly about the incident and its consequences

  • Talking to each other directly allows all parties to be heard and to shift their focus from what happened in the past to a plan of action for the future

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