â€œIn that process … there can be counseling, community service, anger management, things can be put in place that the child is required to do,” Gallaher said.
â€œThe end result is relationships are restored,â€ Gallaher said. â€œIt affects the whole culture.â€
The restorative justice approach is only used when the accused child admits guilt and takes responsibility for their actions.
â€œIt saves the taxpayer money, and it also keeps the child from having a record,â€ Gallaher said.
Gallaher said the restorative justice process keeps hard feelings and bitterness from creating the same situation again and again. It also provides an opportunity to educate about problem-solving skills.
â€œIf itâ€™s really done right, and itâ€™s effective and itâ€™s successful, the bully really becomes an advocate for non-bullying, and he becomes a leader to stop it,â€ Gallaher said.
Both parties have to be willing to work things out in order for this model to be effective. This approach is considered on a case-by-case basis.
Gallaher emphasized the importance of taking childrenâ€™s claims of harassment seriously. He said listening to children is important to figure out what is really going on.
â€œBullying is worse in middle school, statistically,â€ Gallaher said, â€œand it decreases as you get into high school.â€
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