Restorative Practice

Restorative practice is an approach derived from the criminal justice system which provides adults with a framework for facilitating reparation as far as possible following an incident of bullying. Essentially, the aim of this approach is to develop community and manage conflict and tensions by empowering young people in making amends and building relationships. It encourages those who have caused harm to acknowledge the impact of what they have done and gives them the opportunity the make reparation. It allows the harmed party to have their harm acknowledged and repaired. Thorsborne and Vinegrad (2008) have applied this approach to tacking bullying and emphasise that it is about working with people rather than doing things for them. Adults need to be trained to run a restorative conference based on a set of simple yet effective questions. The following questions have been tried and tested to respond to challenging behaviour:

  • What happened?
  • What were you thinking about at the time?
  • What have your thoughts been since?
  • Who has been affected by what you did?
  • In what way have you been affected?
  • What do you think you need to do to make things right?

The following questions are to help those harmed by others’ actions:

  • What did you think when you realised what had happened?
  • What have your thoughts been since?
  • How has this affected you and others?
  • What has been the hardest thing for you?
  • What do you think needs to happen to make things right?

These questions used in order will produce a response that is fair and restorative. It will engage all involved and should lead to a fair and respectful conference conclusion. The conference facilitator does not make or influence decisions, but lets participants express themselves and find their own creative solutions.