EBP in Action: Loyola SMHAPP Students Share Their Work On The Evidence For Restorative Justice
Editor’s Note: Does Restorative Justice (RJ) work? Or better yet, to the extent that RJ does work in K-12 schools, how would we even know? Is it because the program that is offered at our professional development day claims to be “evidence-based,” or because we know that it is? And even more directly, how would we figure out if something is evidence-based, and where would we start in looking for that evidence? These are the questions I asked the 4th cohort of the Loyola School Mental Health Advanced Practice Program (SMHAPP). As part of the SMHAPP course “EBP in School Mental Health” they were asked to examine these questions around RJ and school violence prevention programs, and to create a Research Brief (RB) that described the evidence for a study that looked at RJ. Several of the students also wrote short descriptions of what they found, why they chose that specific article, and what they learned from the SMHAPP EBP class. What follows are their RBs, and some selected references from the articles they drew from.
Introduction to the history of Restorative Justice (RJ) and its connection to K-12 Schools in the United States
Restorative Justice stems from the “native cultures of the South Pacific and Americas. These cultures had an approach to conflict and social ills that emphasized the offender’s accountability for the harm they caused, along with a plan for repairing the hurt and restoring the offender to acceptance. The emphasis on the harm done rather than the act is a widely recognized principle across the RJ literature” (Fronius, Darling-Hammond, Persson, Guckenburg, Hurley, & Petrosino, 2019, p. 5). Fairbank’s (2019) article discussed the Restorative Justice practices used in South Africa to repair the harm done during apartheid. Restorative Justice started appearing in schools in the U.S. sometime in the 1990s (González, Sattler & Buth, 2018). A common theme in Restorative Justice research is that it focuses on forming and maintaining relationships in schools, to be more “responsive and restorative to the needs and concerns of the school community” (González et al., 2018), repairing harm done within school communities, and that schools should use strategies such as peace circles and restorative conferences.
Outcomes of implementing RJ practices include improved school climate, decreased suspension and office referral numbers, improved student connectedness to their peers and teachers, replacement of zero-tolerance and punitive discipline models, an increase in positive classroom behavior, improved academic performance, and social-emotional learning. González et al. (2018) discussed how some schools have altered their school code of conduct to include RJ. One example of this is Minneapolis Public Schools, whose code of conduct now states “[e]ffective discipline is educational, not punitive. Effective discipline includes building relationships, repair of harm and restoring relationships and restorative practices to reengage students in their learning community”
Consistent in RJ research, however, is that there is no one way of defining or implementing restorative justice. Because of this, when considering implementing restorative justice practices, it is imperative for schools to use research that is similar to their current school demographics and climate when using case studies and implementation practices to guide their rollout of RJ. (Sam Prystawik, 7th & 8th Grade Special Education Teacher, Wisconsin and Loyola SMHAPP student)
Infographic by Jennifer Ferguson
We now share a variety of Research Briefs (RBs) and Infographics that are tied to specific articles about RJ that the SMHAPP cohort found in their research. All the RBs are free to download and share and use in your school. practice.
Research Brief by Kara KroculickKaraKsowk784-infogra_43235739
Research Brief by Sam PrystawikSamPResearch-Brief-on-Restorative-Justice
I chose this article because we are currently in the process of implementing Restorative Practices at my school and I am on the implementation team. I also chose this article because it was a study done on a school in Milwaukee that has been implementing Restorative Practices for several years and I am currently working in the Milwaukee area so it matched more with my environment that other articles did.
I greatly benefited from the EBP class because everything I learned I could take to school the next day. As a part of the RTI team, I was often bringing back new interventions I had learned from the class or different ways to approach selecting interventions that we weren’t doing before. (Sam Prystawik)
Research Brief by Shannon SterlingShannonS-infogr_43227097-1
I chose the Christle et al. (2005) article due to how relatable it was to the building I serve and the issues I see, including low SES, lower academic performance, higher behavior referral and suspension rates, and using retention. The article gave me hope that there are ways to break the school-to-prison pipeline, but only if schools actively and intensively work to change adult beliefs about students’ capacity for success and implement new practices to support that. This article does align to a podcast that was a part of our EBP class, in that the narrative around black boys has to change, and schools must do a better job in meeting the needs of this group of students. (Shannon Sterling, School Social Worker, Waterloo, Iowa, and Loyola SMHAPP student )
Research Brief by Kenya ButtsSOWK784Research-Brief-Butts-1
Research Brief by Patrick WolfWolfINFOGRAPHICsRev
Research Brief by Lisa BakerLisaBaker-Research-Brief-School-Violence
I chose this article because it took a look at the effectiveness of several widely used, evidence-informed school violence prevention programs, specifically eight different components ranging from school-wide to small group, to individual interventions. They looked for a reduction in student bullying, verbal abuse of teachers, recorded rates of violent incidents, and the number of violent incidents reported to the police and found that individual interventions were the most effective in the reduction of aggression and violence. The study was important because it calls attention to the fact that these programs are not necessarily based on empirical evidence and the results support that, although these programs are widely used, they may not be as effective as promised. The article calls attention to the need for more effective school violence prevention programs and the need for social workers to use more evidence-informed practices in schools. The EBP class in SMHAPP has helped me tremendously in determining what is evidence-based and whether something is relevant to my practice. (Lisa Baker, School Social Worker in Alternative Education Settings, Loyola SMHAPP student )
Research Brief by Penny Williams-Wolford: Embedding Restorative Practices in Early Childhood Programs’ MTSS
Creating opportunities for early childhood programs to embed restorative practices within their multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS) is paramount to the development of children’s social-emotional health. Restorative practices can be included in all three tiers. Using the IIRP definition to build an early childhood programs MTSS, one would have to look at how restorative practices can precede social conflicts. Wachtel believes “restorative practices help reduce crime, violence, and bullying, improve human behavior, strengthen civil society, provide effective leadership, restore relationships, and repair harm” (Wachtel, 2016). This means the program would need a research-based curriculum and social-emotional curriculum.
Restorative practices are critical skills for students to learn during the early childhood years. However, this skill can only be taught when the systems that support children engage in professional development around this topic, are willing to reflect on their current beliefs, and commit to ongoing change. Students hear what we teach. One of the most significant influences on children’s behavior is the adult behavior they are continually observing and experiencing. (Penny Williams-Wolford, EC SSW in suburban Chicago, SMHAPP Student)Williams-Wolford.Penny_.Restorative-Practices-Infographic
The Loyola SMHAPP Certificate is a 99% online, 2-year, 15-credit program that offers all school-employed clinicians the chance to join a dynamic professional learning community and to take their practice to the next level. Click here for more info and contact Dr. Kelly, SMHAPP Director at [email protected] if you have questions. Applications for our 5th Fall Cohort are due on or before August 1st, 2020.
Fairbank, N. (2019). Can unity be achieved through restoration? A case study of how restorative justice mechanisms impacted national unity in post-apartheid South Africa. Contemporary Justice Review, 2 2(4), 389-411.
Fronius, T., Darling-Hammond, S., Persson, H., Guckenburg, S., Hurley, N., & Petrosino, A. (2019). Restorative Justice in US Schools: An Updated Research Review. WestEd.
González, T., Etow, A., & De La Vega, C. (2019). Health Equity, School Discipline Reform, and Restorative Justice. The Journal Of Law, Medicine & Ethics, 47(2_suppl), 47-50.
González, T., Sattler, H., & Buth, A. (2018). New directions in whole-school restorative justice implementation. Conflict Resolution Quarterly, 36(3), 207-220.
Wachtel, T. (2018). The implications of restorative practices for the future of democracy. Routledge International Handbook of Restorative Justice.