Seeing things differently: restorative justice and school discipline

Taylor and Francis - Routledge
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Education And The Law, 2005, 17 (3), pp. 87 - 104
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helping to incorporate the principles of human rights, democracy, tolerance and mutual respect, the rule of law and peaceful resolution of conflicts into the daily practice of teaching and learning ...2 Bullying, harassment, anti-social behaviour, drug abusein recent years many safety issues concerning student behaviour confront school authorities. How should schools respond to behaviour that threatens school safety? Much discussion surrounds school responses and the levels of stand-downs, suspensions and expulsions. There is debate also concerning the pre-emptive measures, such as searching and drug testing, introduced by schools in an attempt to guard against such behaviour. The question needs to be asked: Why do young people behave badly in school? Is it that the majority of students feel that schooling is something that is `done to them rather than a process in which they are active valued and significant participants? Should schools be moving towards more meaningful involvement of students not only in building the school community but also in solving problems within that community? There is a currently a great deal of research in New Zealand and the comparative jurisdictions concerning both the teaching of citizenship in formal education and the introduction of school cultures which embrace the right to participation of young people. This article picks up on the theme of citizenship in schools by considering processes by which conflict and safety issues may be dealt with by the school community as a whole, based on the restoration of relationships rather than punishment. It looks particularly at restorative justice practices such as peer mediation in the case of student conflict and school community conferencing.
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