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Restorative Group Conferencing at School: A Constructive Response to Serious Incidents.

Burssens, Dieter
June 4, 2015

Source: (2006) Journal of School Violence. 5(2):5-17.

This article presents the results of a Flemish experiment with restorative group conferencing at school suggesting positive results. Schools are often powerless when a serious incident occurs within the school premises. The end result is usually seen as a failure by the school board and the teachers. The experiment with restorative group conferencing demonstrates that there is a possibility for tackling these problems radically and constructively. The offenders have to take their responsibility, but without being stigmatized. The needs of the victims are acknowledged and the harm they have suffered will be repaired to the extent possible. Lastly, a restorative plan is developed that commands broad support both inside and outside school. Based on the positive outcome of the experiment, the Flemish Education Department is currently taking steps towards a broader implementation. Almost all schools are confronted regularly with disturbing or transgressive behavior having the potential to affect the life at school in a negative manner. In such situations, the school board has few or even no means at their disposal for giving a constructive response to the harmful consequences of the incident. However, since 2000, the Flemish youth protection system has been applying “restorative group conferencing” in response to this serious juvenile delinquency. The promising results suggest the idea of applying it in education as well. Hence, an experiment was launched from October 2002 to March 2004 where 14 restorative group conferencing sessions were organized in the wake of serious incidents in 9 different schools in Flanders. The experiment applied restorative group conferencing to incidents of divergent natures. Abstract courtesy of the National Criminal Justice Reference Service,


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