[Excerpt from Overview, p.1]
This report presents information garnered from a comprehensive review of the literature on restorative justice (RJ)1 in U.S. schools. The purpose of our review is to capture key issues, describe models of RJ, and summarize results from studies conducted in the field. The review was conducted on research reports and other relevant literature published, or made publicly available, between 1999 and mid-2014.
RJ is a broad term that encompasses a growing social movement to institutionalize peaceful and non-punitive approaches for addressing harm, responding to violations of legal and human rights, and problem solving. RJ has been used extensively both as a means to divert people from official justice systems, and as a program for convicted offenders already supervised by the adult or juvenile justice system. In the school setting, it often serves as an alternative to traditional discipline, particularly exclusionary disciplinary actions such as suspension or expulsion. RJ proponents often turn to restorative practices out of concern that more exclusionary disciplinary actions tend to be associated with harmful consequences for children (e.g., Losen, 2014).
Within school settings, RJ encompasses many different program types and might be best characterized as a non-punitive approach to handling a wide range of conflict. An RJ program can involve the whole school, including universal training of staff and students in RJ principles, or it can be used as an add-on approach to respond to an incident or ongoing conflict.