The Restorative Justice model is a peaceful approach that can be used to deal with incidents of bullying within the classroom. It takes into account both the victim and bully’s needs in the hope to create ‘more socially responsible relationships, and promoting ‘empathy and concern for others’.
Within schools it is important to have a well-structured, whole school approach to bullying. So that if incidents happened within the classroom there is already a procedure in place that can be swiftly put into action. To implement the Restorative Justice model these are the things that the website ‘Bullying. No way!’ states that you must have in place:
• the support of the victimised person who needs to have identified that he/she is being bullied and is confident that the approach advocated will work
It is very important for this model that the victim is very involved, which can be a confronting and intimating thought, the school must therefore set up a culture that promotes this model by explaining it in classes such as PDHPE, through video’s that are available, group discussions and role playing activities.
• preliminary investigation to clearly understand the issues before the process is implemented
The teacher’s who are implementing this approach must have a thorough understanding of the incidents, the back ground of the relationship between the victim and the Bullies, have discussed with other teachers and students what they know about the incidents and have tried to find out as much background information about the victims because without this they will be unable to help foster change for both parties.
• staff guidelines and professional development to build understanding, skills and confidence in using the strategies
This approach is not easy, without the skill and confidence in what they are implementing, teachers could actually make the situation worse.
• support within the school community for the approach
As I stated before it is best implemented with a whole school approach because a lot of support is required in it’s implementation and follow up process.
• agreement that the goal is to solve the problem rather than to interrogate, punish, blame or label individuals
• respectful facilitation of the process by trained people
• follow up monitoring of the agreement.
Restorative Justice methods include these four approaches:
• No blame approach
• Method of shared concern
• Formal apology
• Community conference
In a situation where a student is being pushed, name called and excluded from the group my first choice of approach from the Restorative Justice Model is the Method of Shared Concern. This method is about the reconciliation of differences, which encourages empathy and equitable relationships within groups of students.
After a teacher has established that the victim has agreed that this method be used, they have a greater understanding of the incident, and the victims and bullies backgrounds meetings are set up. All the perpetuators are meet individually to allow the teacher to encourage the students to acknowledge what has been happening; why it is happening and help the students establish a way to modify this misbehavior. It is very important that at this meeting the teacher does not bully the perpetrator. This method is about understanding all parties involved.
A meeting is set up with the victim to establish what has been happening and ways in which teachers can help to change this situation.
Then another meeting is held individually with the perpetuators to establish what progress has been made in the modification of their behaviour.
After the evidence of positive change then a meeting can be set up to reinforce the good behaviour.
A final meeting is held that allows both the bullies and the victims to meet and acknowledge that the bullying has stopped.
I have also seen a demonstration that showed the two parties meeting before this final meeting to discuss the situation, so that the victim can explain now it felt to the bully allowing them to have a greater understanding of what it was like for the victim.
With each of the meetings the teacher must have a thorough understanding of this method and Psychology so that they can draw out the bullies ‘acknowledgment of the situation’ and help the students to implement changes in their behaviour.
It is stated in the Bully No way website that “it was found that multiple strategies are needed for those students who persistently bully others.”