Making a difference through restorative justice

Opinion Nov 13, 2017 by Karen Scian Waterloo Chronicle

Could you sit across the table from a person who vandalized your home? What about someone who stole from you?

These are tough questions, that people face every day in our community.

If you are like most people, your initial — and enormously human — reaction to these questions is absolute — No.

Our justice system — in its historical form — embraces the "eye for an eye" mentality.

Throw the books at them. I want that person to pay a price for their actions. To suffer the consequences. To be punished for what they did.

I used to see things that way as well. Until I started watching my students, as young as grade school, face challenges and, oftentimes, suffer punishments that served only one purpose — completely derailing their young lives.

I have a story to share. One of my kids suffers from a mild anxiety disorder, which has caused us significant concern over the years. (I’m going to share this story here, with the gender-neutral pronoun "they," instead of "he" or "she," for obvious reasons.)

Once, in Grade 12, they panicked as they went to write a math exam … and they took off, for hours, before we found them. Their teacher was very angry with them, threatening to fail and suspend them, which may have ended their motivation for and hopes of going to university.

Thankfully, the guidance counsellor offered an alternative solution. Once we found them, they were invited back to school for a meeting with all of us, to talk about the situation. They were given the chance to tell us all what happened, apologize to the teacher for their choices and to help make a plan to right the wrongs.

That plan included several things, including an opportunity to write the exam and rejoin the classroom, in a respectful way. It was a beneficial conversation for all — allowing the anger and fear around the table to dissipate.

Now, this may look like a minor situation, but I can assure you that it wasn’t.

But in the grand scheme of life, it’s a small example of how a restorative approach to "justice" can make a big difference. And it also served to provide a stepping stone to a much better place for my child — they have since graduated from university and are looking forward to a fantastic adult life.

Restorative Justice Week (Nov. 19-26) is here, the perfect time for us to consider alternatives to our traditional models of dealing with crime, conflict and justice. Find out more at www.cjiwr.com.

 

 

 

 


Making a difference through restorative justice

Opinion Nov 13, 2017 by Karen Scian Waterloo Chronicle

Could you sit across the table from a person who vandalized your home? What about someone who stole from you?

These are tough questions, that people face every day in our community.

If you are like most people, your initial — and enormously human — reaction to these questions is absolute — No.

Our justice system — in its historical form — embraces the "eye for an eye" mentality.

Throw the books at them. I want that person to pay a price for their actions. To suffer the consequences. To be punished for what they did.

I used to see things that way as well. Until I started watching my students, as young as grade school, face challenges and, oftentimes, suffer punishments that served only one purpose — completely derailing their young lives.

I have a story to share. One of my kids suffers from a mild anxiety disorder, which has caused us significant concern over the years. (I’m going to share this story here, with the gender-neutral pronoun "they," instead of "he" or "she," for obvious reasons.)

Once, in Grade 12, they panicked as they went to write a math exam … and they took off, for hours, before we found them. Their teacher was very angry with them, threatening to fail and suspend them, which may have ended their motivation for and hopes of going to university.

Thankfully, the guidance counsellor offered an alternative solution. Once we found them, they were invited back to school for a meeting with all of us, to talk about the situation. They were given the chance to tell us all what happened, apologize to the teacher for their choices and to help make a plan to right the wrongs.

That plan included several things, including an opportunity to write the exam and rejoin the classroom, in a respectful way. It was a beneficial conversation for all — allowing the anger and fear around the table to dissipate.

Now, this may look like a minor situation, but I can assure you that it wasn’t.

But in the grand scheme of life, it’s a small example of how a restorative approach to "justice" can make a big difference. And it also served to provide a stepping stone to a much better place for my child — they have since graduated from university and are looking forward to a fantastic adult life.

Restorative Justice Week (Nov. 19-26) is here, the perfect time for us to consider alternatives to our traditional models of dealing with crime, conflict and justice. Find out more at www.cjiwr.com.

 

 

 

 


Making a difference through restorative justice

Opinion Nov 13, 2017 by Karen Scian Waterloo Chronicle

Could you sit across the table from a person who vandalized your home? What about someone who stole from you?

These are tough questions, that people face every day in our community.

If you are like most people, your initial — and enormously human — reaction to these questions is absolute — No.

Our justice system — in its historical form — embraces the "eye for an eye" mentality.

Throw the books at them. I want that person to pay a price for their actions. To suffer the consequences. To be punished for what they did.

I used to see things that way as well. Until I started watching my students, as young as grade school, face challenges and, oftentimes, suffer punishments that served only one purpose — completely derailing their young lives.

I have a story to share. One of my kids suffers from a mild anxiety disorder, which has caused us significant concern over the years. (I’m going to share this story here, with the gender-neutral pronoun "they," instead of "he" or "she," for obvious reasons.)

Once, in Grade 12, they panicked as they went to write a math exam … and they took off, for hours, before we found them. Their teacher was very angry with them, threatening to fail and suspend them, which may have ended their motivation for and hopes of going to university.

Thankfully, the guidance counsellor offered an alternative solution. Once we found them, they were invited back to school for a meeting with all of us, to talk about the situation. They were given the chance to tell us all what happened, apologize to the teacher for their choices and to help make a plan to right the wrongs.

That plan included several things, including an opportunity to write the exam and rejoin the classroom, in a respectful way. It was a beneficial conversation for all — allowing the anger and fear around the table to dissipate.

Now, this may look like a minor situation, but I can assure you that it wasn’t.

But in the grand scheme of life, it’s a small example of how a restorative approach to "justice" can make a big difference. And it also served to provide a stepping stone to a much better place for my child — they have since graduated from university and are looking forward to a fantastic adult life.

Restorative Justice Week (Nov. 19-26) is here, the perfect time for us to consider alternatives to our traditional models of dealing with crime, conflict and justice. Find out more at www.cjiwr.com.