...Peer mediation is used as a prevention tactic to stop conflicts before they get too serious. But if a fight is about to break out or already has, that's when Margaret Rohr, who runs the conflict resolution room, uses "restorative justice."

"Restorative practices basically establish a complete paradigm shift from traditional discipline," Rohr says.

With traditional discipline, the focus is on rules and punishment: Break rule X, get punishment Y. With restorative justice, Rohr explains, the focus is on harm done and relationships.

For instance, if a student starts a fight in the hall — normally grounds for suspension — Rohr will round up everyone who was harmed by the fight and have them participate in a restorative circle. The student who caused the harm has to listen as one-by-one he hears how his actions impacted those around him.

...At Ypsilanti High School, suspensions have decreased by about 10 percent since it started using restorative justice last fall.

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