Restorative Justice in schools: An Overview

What is restorative justice?

Restorative justice can be defined by its fundamental principle, namely that when one person has harmed another, the most useful response is to try to repair the harm done. The restorative justice approach redefines  crime primarily as harm or injury rather than law-breaking.

Why use restorative justice in schools?

Restorative justice in schools aims to reduce bullying and victimisation, manage conflict and improve attendance in schools; research evidence supports restorative justice in schools as a particularly promising approach to improving behaviour and attendance.

Both perpetrators and victims have their say

Restorative justice enables school students affected by bullying, or other serious behavioural incidents, to communicate and agree on how the harm caused by their actions or done to them is to be repaired. When well-implemented, perpetrators learn to understand the consequences of their behaviour and take responsibility for repairing the harm. When this happens victims usually experience the perpetrator’s commitment to reparation which means their fear of re-victimisation is reduced and they are more readily able to put the incident behind them.

What is involved?

Restorative justice in schools can involve holding conferences between the perpetrator and the victim with a mediator, peer mediation by trained school students and informal restorative approaches by staff. Conferences can be used for the most serious incidents of bullying or victimisation to reduce the use of exclusions or, when exclusions cannot be avoided, to support the successful reintegration of the excluded student. Peer mediation involves trained school students assisting in resolving less serious incidents of conflict among students. School staff can also use restorative approaches more informally in dealing with behaviour problems.

Want to learn more?

Restorative Justice Facilitating and Following up with Confidence a Creative Education Course

20 outcomes Restorative Justice can achieve in SchoolsCreative Education Blog Post

The National Centre for Restorative Approaches in Youth Settings

International Institute for Restorative Practices