2016 Children’s Mental Health Report

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Restorative Justice

To reduce the negative effects of disciplinary action, some programs work explicitly to bring down the number of suspensions and expulsions—and replace them with more constructive responses.

Restorative Discipline/Justice includes strategies to both prevent children from breaking the rules and intervene after an infraction has occurred. Some elements are focused on reducing the likelihood of student rule breaking (proactive circles where students and teachers talk about their feelings and expectations) and others on intervening afterwards (e.g., restorative conferences where the parties talk about what happened). In all cases the focus is on avoiding punishment for the sake of punishment.

In a district implementing restorative approaches over a period of six years, the suspension rate fell for students of all races and ethnicities. The reduction was 47% for all students; 41% for black students; 53% for Latino students; and 61% for white students.⁴¹


⁴¹ González, T. (2014). Socializing Schools: Addressing racial disparities in school discipline through restorative justice. In D. Losen (Ed.), Closing the school discipline gap. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.