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The restorative justice center: an alternative to school detention.

Van Bockern, Steve
June 4, 2015

Source: (2008) Reclaiming Children and Youth. 17(3):22-27.

The traditional “stay silent, sit still, do nothing” school detention approach is a punitive and ineffective way to change behavior. It does little to create positive school climates. For children who have been traumatized through fear, isolation, and emotional abuse, pooly managed detention can add to that trauma. A restorative justice approach is a better way.

Faculty members from Hawthorne Elementary in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, committed to the Circle of Courage[TM] philosophy (Brendtro, Broken-leg, & Van Bockern, 2002), implemented an alternative discipline approach in the spring of 2007. The Restorative Justice Center responds to the needs of children who misbehave. Rather than a retributive, penalizing approach that simply hands out punishment in the form of emotional pain (no talking, sitting away from one another, heads on the desk), Hawthorne works to heal and restore unity (Brendtro, Ness, & Mitchell, 2001). Punitive detention systems are contrary to the core values needed to transform school systems into restorative systems. Core restoration values are: (1) children are rich resources who can benefit communities, (2) young people are educators’ social equals, (3) children can develop problem-solving skills, prosocial character traits, and healthy self-concepts, (4) children’s physical, educational, social, spiritual, and emotional needs must be met, (5) families are the best environments for healthy development of children, but everyone can help, and (6) every child succeeds; no child fails (Brendtro, Ness, & Mitchell, 2001, pp.156-158). (excerpt)


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