The study, School-Based Restorative Justice as an Alternative to Zero-Tolerance Policies, was conducted by UC Berkeley School of Lawâ€™s Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice.
Researchers spent one year observing the program at the Cole Middle School in West Oakland, California, interviewing teachers, students, and parents. Itâ€™s one of the first studies to closely examine the impact of restorative justice on an American inner-city school.
….In the reportâ€™s student survey, 83% of respondents said the program was â€œhelping kids at Coleâ€; 83% said it was â€œreducing fighting at Coleâ€; while 91% said it was â€œhelping relationships with other students.â€ As one student told an interviewer, â€œNormally when I get into a conflict, my instinct is to fight. But restorative justice kinda taught me to calm down a bit, taught me to talk it out.â€
Teachers said the program helped students mature and gain social skills; and it compelled them to confront the consequences of their actions. â€œAt first, I felt that I did not have time to do restorative justice,â€ said one teacher, â€œbut now I feel like I donâ€™t have time not to do it.â€
A local nonprofit, Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth (RJOY), helped develop the pilot program. Fania Davis, RJOYâ€™s executive director, said the Berkeley Law report offers the first empirical evidence of the programâ€™s positive impact on students, teachers, and administrators.
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