I just opened the blog from last week’s Ed.Gov newsletter. The article, touting the First Lady’s and Secretary DeVos’ school visit to highlight bullying struck a chord with me.
Like the author, in my restorative justice experience, I have often found that those who exhibit bullying behavior have a clear justification in their minds for why they act as they do. Traditional methods of disciplining bullies (school administrators using their power to inflict punishment of the student) often allow those children to see themselves as victims rather than forcing them to come to terms with their own unacceptable behavior. However, when we examine that behavior in a restorative justice setting–looking at how their actions harmed others and holding them accountable for healing that harm–without labeling the child as a bully, the opportunities for correction, learning and healing abound. I have seen even the most egregious bullying behavior stop in its tracks when addressed restoratively.
The US Dept of Education and Secretary DeVos have a wonderful opportunity to take positive, productive action on their concerns about bullying behavior. This article and press event offered a perfect chance to highlight a proven response for addressing bullying behavior. If you would like to learn more about bringing the power of restorative justice to your learning community, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 517.505.1828 to explore training and consulting opportunities for your school.