Restorative Justice Practices in Schools: 5 Ways to Create Safe & Supportive Environments

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    Creating a safe and supportive environment is crucial for the overall well-being and success of students. As a result, in recent years, schools have been increasingly turning to restorative justice practices as an effective approach to discipline and conflict resolution. 

    This transformative framework focuses on repairing harm, fostering empathy, and promoting accountability. By implementing restorative justice practices, schools can cultivate a positive and inclusive atmosphere that benefits students, teachers, and the entire school community. 

    In this post, we’ll explore five ways to create safe and supportive environments in schools through the use of restorative justice practices.


    Implementing restorative justice practices in schools can have a profound impact on various aspects of student life and academic performance. Here are some key benefits:

    Increased Empathy and Understanding

    Restorative justice practices encourage open dialogue and empathy by bringing together individuals involved in a conflict or harm-causing incident. 

    Through facilitated discussions, all parties gain a deeper understanding of the impact of their actions, fostering empathy and promoting a sense of responsibility. This heightened awareness helps students develop interpersonal skills, compassion, and respect for others.

    Improved Conflict Resolution Skills

    By utilizing restorative justice practices, schools provide students with the opportunity to develop effective conflict-resolution skills. Rather than resorting to aggression or avoidance, students learn how to engage in respectful dialogue, actively listen, and find collaborative solutions. 

    These skills are invaluable in both academic and personal settings, equipping students with the tools needed to navigate conflicts throughout their lives.

    Stronger School Community

    Restorative justice practices prioritize community-building and repair over punishment. By involving students, teachers, administrators, and even parents in the process, schools create a sense of belonging and shared responsibility for maintaining a positive environment. 

    Ultimately, this leads to stronger relationships, increased trust, and a greater sense of unity within the school community.

    Academic Engagement and Achievement

    The use of restorative justice practices has been linked to improved academic engagement and achievement. When students feel safe and supported in their learning environment, they’re more likely to stay focused, participate actively, and excel academically. 

    By addressing underlying issues and fostering positive relationships, restorative justice practices contribute to a conducive atmosphere for learning.

    Long-Term Behavior Change

    Unlike punitive measures that often result in repeated offenses, restorative justice practices aim to promote lasting behavior change. 

    By providing opportunities for reflection, accountability, and making amends, this approach helps students understand the consequences of their actions and learn from their mistakes. Students who have experienced the transformative power of restorative justice are more likely to make positive choices in the future.


    1. Building Strong Relationships

    Restorative justice starts with building solid relationships within the school community. Encourage open communication and foster a sense of belonging by organizing team-building activities, mentorship programs, and regular check-ins with students. 

    By establishing positive connections between students, teachers, and staff, you lay the foundation for a safe and supportive environment.

    2. Implementing Circles

    Restorative circles provide a structured space for dialogue and conflict resolution. Circle discussions bring together students who have experienced harm or conflict, along with their peers, teachers, and perhaps even parents or guardians. 

    These circles encourage active listening, empathy, and understanding, allowing everyone involved to share their perspectives and work toward a resolution. The process helps build trust, repair relationships, and promote healing within the school community.

    3. Teaching Conflict Resolution Skills

    One of the key benefits of restorative justice practices is equipping students with valuable conflict resolution skills.

    Integrate conflict resolution education into the curriculum, teaching students alternative ways to address conflicts peacefully. Additionally, provide training in active listening, effective communication, and problem-solving techniques. 

    By empowering students with these skills, you enable them to navigate conflicts in a constructive manner, reducing the likelihood of escalation and promoting a positive school climate.

    4. Encouraging Restitution and Repair

    Restorative justice emphasizes the importance of restitution and repair for harm caused. Encourage students to take responsibility for their actions by actively participating in restoring the damage they have caused. This could involve apologizing, offering assistance, or engaging in community service. 

    By providing opportunities for students to make amends and demonstrate accountability, you promote personal growth, empathy, and a sense of ownership within the school community.

    5. Engaging Parents and Guardians

    To create a truly supportive environment, it’s essential to involve parents and guardians in restorative justice practices. 

    Educate families about the principles and benefits of restorative justice and communicate how they can be active participants in the process. Encourage parents and guardians to attend circle discussions, workshops, and informational sessions. 

    By fostering collaboration between home and school, you create a unified support system that reinforces the values and practices of restorative justice.

    Restorative justice practices offer a powerful approach to creating safe and supportive school environments. They address conflicts effectively and promote empathy, personal growth, and a strong sense of community. 

    Schools can establish a positive and inclusive atmosphere where students thrive by prioritizing relationships, implementing circles, teaching conflict resolution skills, encouraging restitution, and engaging parents and guardians. As more schools embrace these practices, we move closer to creating educational environments that prioritize healing, understanding, and the well-being of all students.

    Interested in restorative justice training for your school? Consider our School Training for educators.