Our trainings allowed students to learn the process of restorative peer mediation and the philosophy of restorative justice (RJ). We had opportunities for activities focused on skill building and students left the training with an ability to provide conflict resolution services to their school community by acting as student peer mediators. Our restorative justice classes provided students with a deep understanding of restorative justice principles, including RJ theory; the difference between a punitive versus restorative response, systemic racism and other social issues. Students also established deeper interpersonal relationships with their peers and us as adult facilitators.
Here are two examples of the impact RJ training is having on our schools.
David Douglas High School student team is now:
- Facilitating life circles- a place for students to come and circle share on a topic and relationship build with each other. Offers a place of connection and peer support to those feeling a lack of community or connection at school. Was the impetus for a few members then joining the RJ class and thus staying better connected to school and improving attendance.
- Acting as peer mentors. The RNW intern working in the ISS room is able to identify what students might be open and wanting to connect to the RJ team and circles. The intern encourages their attendance and then is able to share these student names with RJ student members so they can outreach to these students as well.
- Girls and Boys group circles are facilitated by senior mentors within the RJ student team, this offers a chance for upperclassmen who themselves struggled as freshman to have the opportunity to share the lessons they’ve learned with their freshman peers in a supportive and confidential environment. The circle meets every other week.
- Connections between restorative service practices and the SUN programs have been made with RJ students attending and supporting the afterschool programs which often times need a sense of consistent direction from students who are already bonded like the RJ students are.
- Students share with other teachers what they are learning in RJ and this helps spread the word about the potential for utilizing restorative practices in response to relationship building or discipline thus building visibility and accessibility of the existing RJ opportunities within the school. Build trust and buy in for future development of RJ practices at the school.
- Relationships have been built between the Rosewood café and the RJ student team- each offering mutually supportive opportunities for engaging community in the understanding and practice of restorative circles.
Grant High School student team is now:
- Supporting teachers and co-facilitating community building classroom restorative circles
- Accessible to RJ coordinator and counselors to offer peer mentorship and restorative circle support for students.
Overall the experience of providing 150 youth across Multnomah County with restorative justice training has been extremely rewarding. We increased the scope of awareness of what restorative justice can do to repair harms within school communities. Students throughout our trainings expressed interest and desire to see RJ policies and approaches implemented in their schools. They appreciated the opportunity to tell personal stories directly related to social issues in their lives. In addition, they expressed how important these trainings were in their ability to make change happen in their schools.
Written by Resolutions NW
Maria Scanelli Restorative, Justice Coordinator
Ashlee Klemperer Chapman, Youth Mediation Specialist
Youth Voice Staff Contact
Youth Development Coordinator