If you have attended my Introduction to Restorative Justice or Restorative Justice 101 sessions, you’ve heard me use truancy as an example of how our communities can be accountable to “offenders.” Often kids who are truant have reasons for skipping classes that might not be obvious to the adults in their schools. Many, for example, are ashamed to come to school because they don’t have clean clothes to wear.
Under our traditional (zero tolerance) system, those kids might be punished without anyone ever hearing why they are avoiding school. In my trainings, I invite us to look at this situation through a restorative lens. This allows us to recognize that the community can play a role in addressing this situation so these kids can participate more fully in their schools.
This seems to resonate with so many of the outstanding educators I’ve met in my trainings. If you are one of those educators interested in healing this harm rather than punishing a child, check out this program by Whirlpool Corporation. Care Counts puts Whirlpool washers and dryers in schools for parents and students to access as needed. In some schools it appears that they encourage parents to volunteer some time while they wait for their laundry to finish—thereby engaging families in their children’s learning communities.
When we change our paradigm from punishment (traditional discipline) to healing the harm (restorative discipline) we open infinite possibilities for strengthening our communities and developing healthy, resilient children. Check out some of the other blogs here to learn about different ways restorative justice is touching lives.