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Employing Restorative Measures to Stop Bullying

By Josette Luvmour, PhD

Bullying NOT OK hereRaising awareness about bullying in school and community is important. October is bullying prevention month—appropriately so. Bullying is most likely to occur in schools where there is a lack of adult supervision during breaks, where teachers and students are indifferent to or accept bullying behavior, and where rules against bullying are not consistently enforced. Successful approaches to bullying involves teachers, principals, students, parents, and everyone associated with the school, including janitors, cafeteria workers, and crossing guards.

Programs to stop bullying proliferate, yet many of the programs fail.  Why? Parents hear of bullying but lack effective means of responding to it.  What can be done to make your child’s school a bully-free zone?

Three critical factors in a successful response to bullying are:  

  1. Complete buy-in by the entire educational community to bully prevention. This includes parents, administrators, teachers, and students. It means clear communication about what bullying is and what appropriate responses are.
  1. An understanding of the background and capacities of each student is essential. It is absurd to attempt an anti-bullying program without intimate knowledge of the students. The program must have several different components so that it connects to the diversity of learning styles and backgrounds of the students.

Restorative measures remain one of the most popular and effective tools used to address bullying complaints. Restorative practice emphasizes repairing the harm caused or revealed by bullying behavior. Three basic components of restorative justice discipline are (1) the acknowledgment and repair of harm from wrongdoing, (2) taking responsibility for that harm and repair, and (3) involving those that are affected.

Some helpful tips for in-the-moment restorative responses in the classroom include:

  • Rewind – Children who hurt others need to review and reflect on what happened so they can review what was happening for them at the time, see the harm done, and explore what needs to happen to put things right.

  • Mini-chats can be used as part of the rewind to reflect on the effects of the misbehavior. Questions such as these can be used:
    1. Can you tell me what happened?
    2. Can you help me understand what you were thinking at the time?
    3. Can you reflect on what you learned from that experience?
    4. Who did this affect? How did it affect them?
    5. Help me understand what you think about it now?
    6. Is there anything you feel you need to do about it now?
    7. Do you have any ideas how we can make sure this doesn’t happen again?
    8. Great work! Thank you.
  • Unwind – students who are harmed need to have the opportunity to voice their feelings, fears and needs as well and don’t always feel it is safe to do so in front of the person who harmed them. They may need to unwind in private and should be given the opportunity to do so with the educator in a one-on-one conversation.
    1. Can you tell me what happened?
    2. Help me understand how you are feeling now?
    3. Is there anything that you know you need now?
    4. How can I help?
  • Wind-up – students who observe harm need to be equipped to take action to support the “game” of relationship building and mending. Students who observe someone harming another person are affected by the harm. In private or in a circle process, observers need to be empowered to provide appropriate support in the future by reflecting on these questions:
    1. Can you reflect and tell me what happened?
    2. Help me understand how you were you feeling when that happened?
    3. Is there anything you need to see happen now?
    4. After reflecting on this event, is there anything that you think could have happened differently?
    5. Is there anything you feel you can do in those situations in the future?
    6. Affirmation for those participating in this process.

Summa Academy is a bully-free school. At Summa we take the time to know children personally and by name. Each child is seen and heard. We work to build relationship and prevent problems before they arise. Nonetheless, sometimes incidents occur. We use a restorative justice/discipline approach if an incident should occur between two people at school.

At Summa we listen and work hard to create an environment that is free from bullying with a culture of mutual respect. Summa Academy’s school created for successful student learning.

Summa Institute serves anyone who wants to awaken their potential. This includes families, children, parents, teachers, and other professionals who work with children and families.

©2013 Josette Luvmour, PhD. All rights reserved.

Please contact for permission to reprint.

 

References:

Amstutz, L. S., & Mullet, J. H. (2005). The little book of restorative discipline for schools: Teaching responsibility, creating caring climates. Intercourse, PA: Good Books.

Hopkins, B. (2004). Just schools: A whole school approach to restorative justice. London: J. Kingsley Publishers.

Luvmour, Ba (2013). The do’s and don’ts about bullying. NW Kids blog. Spring, 2013. URL: http://www.nwkidsmagazine.com/2013/04/the-dos-and-donts-on-bullying/

Summa Institute: https://www.facebook.com/summainstitute?hc_location=stream


Posted on September 4, 2013 by Josette Luvmour, PhD

Josette Luvmour, PhD is an educator and consultant who specializes in child development, adult development, and sustainable family relationships. She serves in the non-profit sector as Director of Family Development and Professional Development at Summa Institute, a nonprofit organization that provides Natural Learning Relationships™ programs to students, families, and professionals. In addition to her 26-year consulting practice at Luvmour Consulting, LLC, she is author of five books and numerous journal articles and chapters that focus on building positive relationships with children.

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(www.ParentInvolvementMatters.org does not handle reprint requests. For permission to reprint articles, please contact the author directly.)

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