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What is Restorative practices?

(video courtesy of the International Institute for Restorative Practices)

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Restorative practices is ...
  • A way to build and restore relationships and communities

  • Holding individuals accountable for the consequences of their actions

  • A philosophical shift in thinking, moving away from focusing on rules broken and punishment to focusing on repairing harm

  • A way of thinking about justice using theory and practice of conflict transformation and peace-building

Principles of Restorative practices
Inclusive Decision Making
Decision-making is placed in the hands of people who care the most- offenders and harmed parties.
Active Accountability
Offenders must take responsibility and make amends. They can't sit back and be judged and sanctioned.
Repairing Harm
Restorative justice focuses on repairing and healing to bring harmed parties up, not to drag the offender down.
Rebuilding Trust
Relationships are rebuilt so that offenders can be trusted again and harmed parties can feel safe again.¹
Restorative Practices Continuum
Small Impromptu Conversations
Less Time
Less Planning
Less Impact
More Time
More Planning
More Impact

Restorative practices are meant to communicate the feelings of all those involved and encourage the offender to reflect on how their behavior has impacted others.

As we move from left to right on the continuum, restorative practices become more formal and start to involve more people, planning, and time. ²

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The social discipline window combines both high levels of accountability with high levels of support.


The restorative domain is characterized by doing thins with people, instead of doing things to them or for them.³

Guiding Questions of Restorative Justice
  1. Who has been hurt?

  2. What are their needs?

  3. Whose obligations are these?

  4. Who has a stake in this situation?

  5. What is the appropriate process to involve stakeholders in an effort to put things right? 

Learn more about restorative practices

(video courtesy of the Restorative Justice Council)

“The fundamental principle of restorative practices is that people are happier, more cooperative and productive, and more likely to make positive changes in their behavior when those in positions of authority do things with them, rather than to or for them”                                                                                                              -Howard Zehr ⁴

1. Karp, D. R.  The Little Book of Restorative Justice for Colleges and Universities.

2. Restorative Practices: Student, Family, and Community Support Department. "Continuum of Restorative Practices."

3. International Institute for Restorative Practices. "Defining Restorative: Social Discipline Window."

4. Zehr, H. The Little Book of Restorative Justice

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