The Children’s Advocacy Alliance is a strong proponent of measures to keep children, families and educators safe on school campuses at all times. Restorative Justice supports teachers by keeping them safe while providing a safe and effective learning environment for the entire school and in which they can truly feel supported and do what they were trained to do — teach. Though it is only a piece of that puzzle, Restorative Justice often receives some of the most polarized attention in Nevada. 

MYTH: Restorative Justice is too soft. Perhaps the most common myth is that Restorative Justice can’t work because it “ties teachers hands” and takes away any severe-enough punishments to keep students in line.

FACT: The current most common punishment is removing a child from the school environment temporarily or permanently (suspension or expulsion), which only teaches the student that they are not wanted in the space, rather than the harm they caused to someone else. Restorative Justice helps students face the harm they caused by facilitating communication with their teachers, classmates, and victims. It teaches young people better coping techniques and accountability for how their actions may impact others.

MYTH: Restorative Justice will not keep my children safe if dangerous students are left in school.

FACT: No one wants children at risk of violence. Restorative Justice helps students face how their actions impacted another by facilitating communication with their victims. Students with extreme behaviors are given consequences that match that behavior.

MYTH: Restorative Justice puts responsibility on the teachers, not the parents.

FACT: Restorative Justice techniques are preventative in nature. It also builds relationships between schools and parents. When a school culture is designed to foster empathy between students and teachers, students feel a part of that culture and unwanted behaviors are less likely to occur.

MYTH: Restorative Justice is only about sitting in circles talking about feelings.

FACT: While teaching social-emotional skills are critical to the process, Restorative Justice is not mental health therapy. It teaches students the impact their choices have on their peers, teachers, and the school community. It also gives them the tools to reengage and make repair for their harm. Through this, they learn that they belong in school.

MYTH: Restorative Justice takes too much time and doesn’t work.

FACT: Restorative Justice techniques require educator and administrator training. When trained, the techniques can save time as they create a school community students want to a part of. Unlike the punitive or “zero-tolerance” polices that are currently in place, students return without learning the impact of their behaviors and they often miss instructional time. Punitive approaches also require additional teacher time and school resources to close these educational gaps. Ultimately, the punitive approach only leads to repeating or escalating inappropriate behaviors.