My colleague responded, "That is such a core truth and often forgotten especially in the criminal justice system with its judgments."
In the exchange, I began thinking of how we can lose sight of this hope and possibility of change even in restorative programmes:
- A focus on offender accountability can lead us to stress the wrong done in a way that judges and discourages offenders.
- Case processing and the demands of criminal justice agencies can redirect attention from people and their needs to technical requirements of compliance.
- A desire to bring parties together to experience the powerful healing that can take place in a restorative process may lead us coerce participation or even mislead participants in our communications.
- The reality of those we serve may mean missed appointments and antagonistic behaviour that can feel disrespectful and even harmful. If we are not careful, our frustrated response will send a message of hopelessness.
As I told my colleague, we need reminders to help us centre on hope and the possibility of change. What are some ways you maintain a focus on restorativeness? How can we communicate this message of hope in all our interactions with clients? What other possible pitfalls exist?