Taking Restorative Justice to Schools
In the wake of more than a decade of disturbing headlines ranging from bullying to school massacres, author Jeannette Holtham now dedicates her time to teaching schools how to improve their school culture and reach our youth before their behaviors get out of control or turn to violence.
Her timely book Taking Restorative Justice to Schools: A Doorway to Discipline is the first comprehensive practical guide for schools that are ready to reduce discipline problems by as much as 60 to 85 percent. It provides an answer to zero tolerance policies that have unintentionally encouraged the overuse of suspension and expulsion which has led to widespread dropout rates—sending hundreds of thousands of our youth into their communities with insufficient education and job skills to complete in the workforce—a perfect storm for the school-to-prison pipeline. By contrast, the global explosion of restorative justice keeps kids in school, gets them to take responsibility for their behaviors, helps them to gain empathy for others, and provides them with a mutually respectful school environment where they can make better choices in the future.
As Ms. Holtham puts it, “Students don’t suddenly bring a knife or gun to school with an intention to harm their fellow students or the school staff. Educators can take advantage of early warning signs to get to core issues before they lead to violence. Her book provides powerful prevention and intervention tools in a simple, step-by-step model that complements a school’s discipline system to make schools safer, reduce teacher burnout, and recover vital teaching and learning time in classrooms.
As a teacher and restorative justice coordinator, this has been the most valuable how to guide that I have used during professional development sessions with students and teachers. I have used the sample disciplinary incidents in the book to role play healing circles, and they have worked wonderfully. Whether you are new to restorative justice or familiar with circles this book is wonderful, filled with scripts and documents you can use and rework for your purposes as you implement restorative justice.
"Taking Restorative Justice to Schools" is a practical resource for those wanting to rethink their approach to wrongdoing and conflicts in schools and other contexts involving youth. In 80 pages and 6 easily-digested chapters it takes the reader through both the "why" and the "how." Appendices provide short check lists and "cheat sheets" to aid in implementation. An excellent companion to "The Little Book of Restorative Discipline for Schools" by Amstutz & Mullet (and almost exactly the same size), it is a significant contribution to the growing literature on restorative processes in the educational field.
Professor of Restorative Justice
Eastern Mennonite University
"Taking Restorative Justice to Schools" is a very helpful addition to the literature on RJ in schools. I have already told numerous people about it and have encouraged them to get a copy. It's very practical and accessible. Thanks for the great work you are doing!
The Table of Contents immediately reveals a positive bias towards application which I appreciate. I was convinced that I could take this book and help any school institute a restorative justice program.
Early on, the author provides a rationale for implementing restorative justice (Punitive approaches erode community & fundamental issues unaddressed) and addresses the myth that RJ is a "touchy feely" approach. Having to face one's victim is often far more challenging, accountable and ultimately transformative than taking a school suspension.
Overall Ms. Holtham's book addresses formal restorative conferencing, circle processes that can be used in classrooms, and "boomerang" questions that can be turned into teachable moments.
The book is filled with ready to use scripts, templates, and role plays. As someone who played a role in establishing a successful restorative justice program at our school, I wish I had a resource like this three years ago.
Jeannette Holtham has hit the nail on the head. Restorative Justice is not a replacement to conventional discipline, it's an alternative. For those who are willing to take ownership of their actions, RJ is an incredible tool to building better citizens.
To those who are reluctant, unwilling, or unaware of how to take responsibility for their actions, RJ is a tremendous tool towards individual responsibility.
The tools and tips she offers in this book are the summation of years of experience and research - all geared towards simple application. Any teacher, any school, any time.
Had I read this book when I began my career in Law Enforcement in the early 80', I imagine I would have made a tremendous difference in the lives of hundreds of kids. It's not too late. These principles are simple, straight-forward, and proven successful. Instant application. Immediate results.
I have one question for you. What are you waiting for? Read this book, and help make a positive difference to an entire community.
This is a practical guide from a practitioner. Ms. Holtham provides the philosophical foundations for restorative justice, describes the need for it in schools, the record of success and then a roadmap for implementation. She describes the required stakeholders, appropriate offenses and then offers a "how to" manual with sample scripts to conduct restorative justice conferences. If you are interested in reducing class disruptions, suspensions and expulsions while creating an educational community and culture of learning, this book tells you how to do it with restorative practices.
This small, and easy to read book is a great introduction to restorative practices. Ms. Holtham is immensely qualified to speak on the subject and has had huge successes implementing RJ into various schools and communities around the world. This book isn't just for individuals looking to put RJ into schools (although it's certainly a clear, easy guide for that). It also can help an individual start to implement the practices in their personal life, community, or workplace.
I am a trainer and facilitator of RJ throughout Colorado.
Everyone that is doing RJ or wants to learn about RJ and to be able to facilitate circles should have this book.
I know that personally it is just what I need to make myself a much better teacher of RJ and facilitator.
I have only been recently exposed to the benefits of restorative justice processes, but I have found that in my recent move to the state of Colorado, the process works exceptionally well.
It seems that the legislators in Colorado agree and recently passed a law in 2011 to encourage greater use of restorative justice programs throughout the state.
This book is a must read for any civic official that seeks out a justice system that is both fair and cost efficient.
At the end of the day, I hope that this book resonates with a wide audience and that our society can be motivated to seek out alternatives to restore harm cause by individual acts in a more modern and effective manner.
Kudos to the author for a job well done.