Conflict Resolution in the Nonprofit Sector Through a Restorative Justice Lens – Troy Washington, PhD, Urban Education, UW-Milwaukee
The Use of Restorative Justice to Resolve Conflict in Schools. Schools today are increasingly interested in utilizing conflict resolution techniques that can provide both a short-term solution and a long-term resolution that allows students and schools to focus on more prevalent issues such as education, safety, and child development. One technique that has proven useful is restorative justice practices. Restorative justice “is a theory of justice that emphasizes repairing the harm caused or revealed by criminal behavior. It is best accomplished through cooperative processes that include all stakeholders” (Latimer, Dowden, & Muise, 2005).
Restorative justice includes programs and outcomes that include victim offender mediation, conferencing, circles, victim assistance, ex-offender assistance, restitution, and community service characterized by key values of encounter, amends, reintegration, and inclusion. Under restorative justice techniques, the goal is to have the victim come together with the perpetrator, giving the two an opportunity to work toward a solution that is meaningful and satisfactory (Latimer, Dowden, & Muise 2005). Bearing in mind restorative justice is about building bonds rather than just issuing punishments, it serves the goals of education by ensuring that young people are given the chance to grow through their mistakes in some unique ways. Restorative justice also provides an opportunity for the victim to face the offender and place a level of empathy and accountability on the offender. With restorative justice practices offering proven results, more educators have and are adopting the approach of restorative practices with varying degrees of success. With that being said, this presentation is intended to show how implementing restorative justice in the school system can serve as an effective tool in helping to reduce school suspensions, school conflicts, bullying, and misbehavior. Implementing restorative justice will also promote personal accountability, responsibility, and peaceful resolution through the use of mediation, peace circles, family and community involvement and restitution.