Home' Independence : Independence Vol 33 No 1 May 2008 Contents 70 Independence Volume 33 No. 1
The traditional role models for young
people are not providing a good example.
But I believe that schools can provide the
necessary leadership in several ways if
restorative practices are adopted.
Firstly, it will require leadership by school
administrators. To be successful, restora-
tive practices must be a whole of school
approach, including not only teachers but
also students, non-teaching staff, families
and others who come into contact with
students at the school. Restorative practi-
ces will take time to inculcate and grow so
that it is not seen as a program but as a
practice or modeling of behavior. Admini-
strators will need to support, encourage
and model that which they want to achieve.
Secondly, it will require all adults to model
those behaviors they want their students
to have when they are adults and leaders.
This will require personal reflection, and
will at times divert a classroom teacher
from a primary task to deal with a prob-
lem behavior in the classroom.
This last point is an issue that teachers
struggle with. I have often been told, 'I
don't have time to deal with a problem
behavior in class. I am there to teach.
The Principal or somebody else should
deal with that'. In my view this type of
response is an abrogation of in loco
parentis. We should be teaching more
than the three Rs.
If I ask teachers, what are the challenges
you face each day that divert you from
teaching, the answers include bullying,
fights, arguments, disruptive behaviors,
lack of respect, abuse -- that is, student
If I ask students, What is the best and
worst thing about school, their responses
are likely to be 'friends' or 'no friends'.
If I ask Principals what are the challenges
they face each day that diverts them from
their primary role, the answers may include
dealing with children excluded from class,
staff problems or complaints, and parent
grievances or complaints.
The common denominator in all is
Relationships in the community have dete-
riorated. Anger (neighbours, sports players,
road rage, media), fear and terror, contempt
(racial, religious and sexual), disconnected-
ness and shaming are being modeled in
ways that young people see as normative
behavior. The solutions have in the main
been reactive rather that preventative.
I believe that restorative practices in
schools will in the longer term deliver
the society we really want, through three
• Respect -- respect for others leads to
self respect and empathy
• Modeling -- the importance of all adults
(particularly those in the public eye)
modeling that which they want the
young to emulate cannot be understated
• Moral learning.
Low birth weight
Prenatal brain damage
Poor problem solving
Poor social skills
Low self esteem
Lack of empathy
Anti social models
Lack of affection
Normative beliefs about
Deviant peer group
Poor attachment to school
Divorce and family
War or natural disasters
Death of a family member
Concerning violence as
acceptable response to
Media portrayal of
Lack of support services
Social or cultural
Figure 1. Risk factors relating to commitment of criminal offences by young people
From National Crime Prevention Council (1999), Pathways to Prevention report.
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