Assets in Action: Learn about restorative justice

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By Bernadette Lauritzen

There’s only a few weeks until spring break! What? Where did October through February go?
Our asset category for the month of March is positive values. The assets in this category include numbers 26 through 31.
They are caring, equality and social justice, integrity, honesty, responsibility and restraint.
Later this month, the Juvenile Justice Advisory Board will host a training session on restorative justice for local and statewide programs.
Restorative justice is a comprehensive look at an infraction that includes admitting responsibility, being held accountable, having a consequence and rebuilding the relationship with the party that he or she has harmed.
This is a program that has success because of several reasons. One of the most important reasons is because everyone is heard during the process.
The process puts everyone on a level playing field, makes sure there is understanding and gives the offender a chance to earn back their way.
The model is already used locally in classrooms, for criminal issues with youth and non-criminal issues, before they escalate.
You can learn about restorative justice, but it is most beneficial when you are part of the process. You can’t just sit and watch a restorative justice circle, but you can act as a community member.
Sometimes, a community member brings a level of clarification that eludes the understanding of the offender. It isn’t because of denial, it is because they see it differently.
Once, a mom explained to a student that had done graffiti, that she was afraid it meant gang members were in the neighborhood.
The offender, just a youth that made a bad choice, saw the situation from a different perspective and began to cry. The poor action had taken on a different meaning.
As parents of young children, it can never start too soon. These are baby steps that will benefit you and them when the decision to make the right choice gets harder as they grow.