Passing the talking stonePassing the talking stoneThe approach taking root in 21 Oakland schools, and in Chicago, Denver and Portland, Ore., tries to nip problems and violence in the bud by forging closer, franker relationships among students, teachers and administrators.

It encourages young people to come up with meaningful reparations for their wrongdoing while challenging them to develop empathy for one another, often through “talking circles” led by facilitators like Mr. Butler.

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