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Restorative Justice & a Tale of Two Schools

The graphic above illustrates the positive differences we can make when we consistently put in the time and energy to shift the culture of our institutions with a restorative justice lens. Changing our community’s culture of conflict is no small goal, but it’s a worthy one because the people at the center of it, our kids, are worth it.

What is a restorative culture? In essence, it’s the ongoing balance of participation for those involved with three goals: 1) accountability to repair harm, 2) enhancing the competence for those committing harm and 3) community safety.

Public schools have for years walked a fine line between the accountability and support of their students as they seek to create a positive learning environment free of violence, bullying and threats. Because students are mandated to attend school, they are also create a de-facto community space in which numerous norms, strengths and challenges converge that reflect our dynamic society.

Zero tolerance education systems were popular among schools searching for simple catch-all solutions to improving students’ behaviors inside and outside the school–with an emphasis on safety. Such schools have used suspension and expulsions that address wrong-doing and removal of those who violate norms or threaten safety. High suspension rates do not correlate to better student development; studies show that the opposite occurs.

Fania Davis, Phd, is the founder of RJOY: Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth and the principle pioneering advocate behind the implementation of restorative justice across the public Oakland Unified School District, serving more than 37,000 students in 118 schools.

Dr. Davis’s experience, not just implementing restorative justice on a large scale but also researching its effectiveness, has much to offer Lancaster County on its own journey to being a more equitable and restorative community. For that reason, Advoz is inviting her to contribute to a Cross-Community Conversation on January 20th with a number of youth stakeholders from education, law enforcement, courts and community leaders. It’s an effort made possible thanks to the partnership with Lancaster County Juvenile Probation and Community Action Partnership and with sponsorship of the Lancaster County Community Foundation and the High Foundation.

Peacemaking is work. It requires attentiveness, perseverance, even blind faith to go the extra mile with each person or organization involved.

It’s a mile worth walking, as we have watched the payoff for places who invest in restorative approaches. In one school district, we worked with teachers for a year only to see the school discontinue its effort. They later established a full-time “restorative facilitator” who is now a resource person for Advoz. It’s one of many steps shifting toward a restorative culture. Read more about effectiveness of implementing Restorative Justice in other schools in Pennsylvania in a study conducted by the Rand Corporation.

Your support of Advoz helps us take one restorative step at a time alongside the many critical institutions here in our community. This year, we raised more than $30,000 in matching “Back to School” support for dozens of troubled youth to get a fresh start through Advoz’s existing restorative justice “victim-offender” dialogue. In November, we raised an additional $33,730 in Lancaster’s Extraordinary Give.

The Cross-Community Conversation with Dr. Fania Davis is another step made possible with the support of our partners and people like you.

Infographic credit: Schott Foundation, Advancement Project, American Federation of Teachers and National Education Association. More at: http://schottfoundation.org/restorative-practices.


Making Peace ~ Poetry & Practice

Each month, youth and parents have a chance to practice being peacemakers in their own world, family, school, friends, community. It’s a class called Making Peace and the youth, often referred by Youth Aid Panels from school fights and other first-time incidents, often find themselves not only enjoying the class, but becoming collaborative poets. It’s just one of the often-transformational exercises of this 4-hour class of youth and their parents.

But this past class was so enthusiastic about what they produced, they asked to have it sent back to them. So this gives you an idea of how young people, even those starting skeptically about learning something from an obligatory Saturday morning workshop, can become creators of their own peaceable world.

Peace is the color of the rainbow, red and blue and orange and white…every color has its own meaning… transparent, clear, too.

Peace is like an elephant, an owl, a dove, a koi fish, a pink pig (cuz everybody likes bacon!)

Peace moves freely, swims, in the ocean of freedom.

It flies, it walks, it runs, it crawls. It spreads like a virus.

Peace tastes like oxygen, air…sweet and sour pork, red white & blue popsicles…sugar. Peace is like a bright sunny day! or not stepped in, fresh snow cause everybody’s inside or messy snow cuz everybody’s outside!


Fall Mediation Training – New Three-Day Format

Our intrepid training team has been at the drawing board, crafting a compact and potent Basic Mediation Training in one three-day stretch. The training, which replaces the prior two-part format, still provides professionals and volunteers alike with a high quality foundational experience complete with CLEs for attorneys and CEUs for social workers, professional counselors and marriage/family therapists.

The training takes place Thursday September 28 through Saturday, September 30, 9 am – 5 pm at a the Mennonite Central Committee’s Welcoming Place in Akron, PA.

Early Bird ends Sept. 8. Registration deadline is September 22.

Pre-registration is required and can be made directly from our website at: advoz.org/services/training/

This introductory training can be augmented by later advanced training opportunities and mentorship, providing a high quality preparation to resolve conflict in a number of critical situations.

Training to volunteer in Restorative Justice Victim-Offender Conferencing is also scheduled for October with an multiple guest speakers and an updated design.

Share or download here the Advoz Fall 2017 Training Flyer.

Learn More and Register Today