Teenager Jon swore at his teacher, threw a notebook at her, and when told to report to the principal, he bumped his shoulder into hers as he left.
What do you think should happen to Jon? Punitive action, a call home to notify his parents, in-school suspension, out of school expulsion?
How about restorative justice? Lots of schools have implemented such programs to hold students accountable for their actions, to show them the harm they’ve inflicted on others, and to make reparations. Restorative justice follows a protocol—no loosey-goosey conversation here—and takes time and commitment to establish.
A student like Jon may have big problems in his life that cause him to act out. It is a school’s (and a family’s) responsibility to teach Jon how to think, to examine his actions, to apologize, and to make reparations.
Research shows that the brain can be rewired well into adulthood. Every parent, leader, and teacher should lobby their school for restorative justice programs. A teenager’s future is worth it.