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Violent Behavior and Positive Parenting


The first purpose of a clear prohibition of violence is educational – to send a clear message that all violence against children is unacceptable and unlawful and to reinforce positive, non-violent social norms. – Paulo Sergio Pinheiro–.                                                                                                                 

 

 An Act Relative to Nonviolent Discipline has been introduced in Massachusetts for Family Nonviolence Inc by State Representative Vinny. deMacedo. Below is a summary of the reason for this legislation.

It was not until the 1970s that researchers in the academe earnestly researched why so many family members, intimate partners and peers use assaultive, battering and/or coercive behavior to “get their way” regardless of age gender or sexual orientation. Massachusetts General Law 209A, section (a) defines “abuse” between family or household members as “attempting to cause or causing physical harm (1).” Through a number of Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decisions the court has held that “under certain circumstances” beating a child with a belt is a “reasonable force” and not “abuse” concerning parental corporal punishment (2). Family NonViolence Inc. is supporting legislation that would open a dialogue to discuss what FNI believes is a disconnect of logic and common sense concerning these two propositions. To date, this attempt to engage members of the legislature, the media and the general public in this discussion has received little to no support. FNI urges you to visit their website at http://familynonviolence.wordpress.com/ for more details. Interveners for child, sibling, spousal, intimate partner, elder abuse and bullying agree that anyone who remains a bystander is silently condoning the behavior they witness. FNI urges you to contact members of the legislature, the media and discuss this issue among colleagues, family and friends.

(1)    Massachusetts General Law 209A, section (a). (2) See Commonwealth v. O’Connor, 407 Mass. 663 (1990); Donald R. Cobble, Jr. vs. Commissioner of the Department of Social Services; Commwealth v. Rubeck 64 Mass Appt. Ct 396; Massachusetts Law Updates, Spanking and the Lawhttp://masslawlib.blogspot.com/2007/11/spanking-and-law.html

Violent behavior

By state statutory law domestic violence is defined as child, sibling, dating, intimate partner, spousal or elder abuse (WomensLaw.org, 2010). Domestic violence is the multilevel, multifaceted use of manipulative or coercive behavior and/or physical assaults with the objective of changing or controlling the behavior of a family member or intimate partner with the intent of achieving a specific goal. This behavior ranges from threats, to injurious, sexual and lethal assaults.

Bullying as well as acquaintance and stranger violence are also the multilevel, multifaceted use of manipulative or coercive behavior and/or physical assaults with the intent of changing or controlling the behavior of a peer, acquaintance or stranger with the objective of achieving a goal (Murphy, 2010). These behaviors also range from threats to injurious, sexual and lethal assaults.

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence defines domestic violence as a pattern of behavior used to establish power and control over another person through fear and intimidation, often including the threat or use of violence, when one person believes they are entitled to control another. This behavior may seem familiar to many parents because it is how they choose to raise their children.

                                                                                                                                                                

Recent research documents that most coercive behavior or physical assaults do not spontaneously appear the first day children attend school. Most often dating violence does not mysteriously arrive when young adults date. The majority of intimate partner violence does not suddenly occur when dating couples reach adulthood or marry. Elder abuse does not inexplicably emerge when adults become elders. Research clearly documents that most often these behaviors are linked to one another and one is often the precursor to another.

A National Research Council (NRC) report documents that too often research on familial violence against women has been isolated from the research of violence in general. The NRC urges an end to this almost total separation of research that can hinder, not help, the exploration of proactive solutions for all forms of violent and abusive behavior regardless of age, gender or sexual orientation.

Empirical research about violent behavior documents there are far more similarities than differences linking family, intimate partner, acquaintance, stranger violence and bullying behavior. One use of family violence often begets another. The cycle of violence will not end by breaking the middle or last link. Fragmented research, differing research methodologies and ideologically held beliefs sometimes create as much confusion as clarity.  

Culture of violence

In a Boston Globe article Spike in violence has city on edge , the Boston Police report homicides and shootings are on the rise again. This most recent spike in violence has raised calls for more patrols and tougher firearm penalties. Both, at best, are temporary reactive interventions that provide little to no life span or communitywide violence prevention. However, the last sentence in the above article does note both cause and solution. Police Commissioner Davis notes that, “There is a cultural norm that we’re fighting that really needs to be addressed.”  There are also members of the Boston clergy who are working to break the culture of violence.

Some neighborhoods and families are disproportionately at risk. Those at highest risk are families in crisis because of violence in the home and neighborhood either witnessed or as victims, cyclical poverty, chronic unemployment, lack of education, family support, chronic alcohol and/or drug abuse and individuals affected by emotional disorders.

A Boston Globe columnist writes that neither the mayor, the police commissioner, nor the district attorney know what to do to end the cycle of violence in homes and communities that cause many people to live in fear. Empirical evidence demonstrates the solution is not in their hands alone. Politicians and law enforcement can do little to provide comprehensive violence prevention. The ultimate solution rests in the willingness of individual parents to provide their children with positive parenting and more opportunities than they had as children. Collectively, neighbors must set specific and achievable goals for better homes and neighborhoods.

In a Globe article, Some laud new antiviolence effort it is suggested where the city, neighborhoods and parents could begin. Most people ignore or have overlooked the fact that this Globe article identifies the necessity of breaking the cycle of violence in the home. The article notes that, “Violence starts and ends in the home, even though its most visible effects may play out on the streets.”

The report Early Learning Prevents Youth Violence demonstrates that intervention and prevention must begin the day a child is born. Recent research reveals that children express anger and aggression soon after birth. Unless they are provided with positive parenting and proper role modeling they are at a very high risk to engage in aggressive behavior, risk-taking, substance abuse and criminal activity.

A primary cultural norm that needs to be addressed is that many parents raise their children using coercion and physical assaults to control or alter their child’s behavior and/or to achieve parental goals.  The American Medical Association report, Connecting the Dots to Prevent Youth Violence documents that:

·         Experiencing child abuse and neglect increases the likelihood of arrest as a juvenile by 53% and committing violence crime by 38%.

·         More than 3.3 million children witness physical and verbal abuse in their home each year.

Many people are unwilling or unable to recognize that the cultural norm of verbal abuse and physical assaults too often begins with parents in their homes because as a once famous (now mostly forgotten) possum, POGO noted, “We have met the enemy and the enemy is us.” And the enemy is in denial.

An Act Relative to NonViolent Discipline(187th Session (2011-2012)  -  Representative Vinny deMacedo and Senator Bruce Tarr have introduced the below legislation:

Section 24M. The Department of Public Health shall collaborate with the Massachusetts Children’s Trust fund, the Department of Education, the Department of Early Education and Care, and the Department of Children and Families to develop and implement a comprehensive and coordinated state-wide public awareness campaign to expand the knowledge of parents, caregivers, and the general public on the advantages associated with the use of positive parenting techniques. The department shall work with public and private universities and not for profit organizations to obtain grants and private funds to implement the provisions of this section. For the purposes of this section, positive parenting is a non-violent, solution-focused approach that includes but is not limited to: clear communication of expectation, rules, and limits; building a mutually respectful relationship with the child; teaching the child life-long skills; and developing long-term solutions that develop the child’s own self-discipline.

Parents use and society continues to condone raising children with the use of coercion and physical assaults. Why do societies in general and parents in particular appear surprised when toddlers, adolescents, teens, young adults and adults continue this parental role modeling behavior with peers or intimate partners to achieve their real or perceived needs or goals? Educational and community wide preventative programs must better connect these lifespan violent behavioral dots. Children should not receive less protection under the law from violence than adults. Until we begin at the beginning, there will be no end in sight.

Richard L. Davis, President Family NonViolence, Inc. –rldavis@post.harvard.edu / Shirley Pearson, Vice President –shirus@verzion.net / Jean, DeCoffee, Secretary, DeCoffeJ@comcast.net / Joni Gaudiello, Treasurer – Joni.Gaudiello@Bristolcc.edu / David A. Buehler – Clergy Representative – davidbuehler@post.harvard.edu, Kathleen Wolf – Kwolf789@yahoo.com – board member

Below is a letter to the editor that appeared on page A10, in the October, 9th, 2010 issue of the Boston Globe

Outrage over how children die, but not over how they live.

There has been much deserved public outrage over the murder of 2-year old Amani Smith, and I read with sadness Andrew Ryan’s front-page Oct. 3 article “Outcry over youngest victims has echoed through city before.” What I wonder is: Where was the outrage when Amani Smith was found, a few days before he was murdered, wandering alone in only his diaper on a Boston street (as you reported in your Oct. 1 front-page story “Key evidence in shootings recovered”) Where was his family? Where were his neighbors? How many other children are being neglected, abused, or ignored today in his neighborhood and in others across the Commonwealth? Where are the street rallies screaming for justice, for protection, for parenting education to protect the most helpless Bostonians?

Where is the outrage not only over how children die, but how they live?

Protecting children from neglect and abuse is among the most important responsibilities of the state.

                                                                                                Boston Globe, November 7, 2009, p. A10

 

If you are reading a hardcopy of this pamphlet please visit http://tinyurl.com/2echdw9  for the hyperlinked online copy.  This is an opportunity for you to act on your beliefs and to help the weakest and most disempowered citizens of the commonwealth. If you believe that everyone in the Commonwealth deserve the rights vested upon them by the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights please help end the silence concerning violence against children by passing this pamphlet on to at least one person who will promise you they will pass it on to another person. Please contact your legislators and ask that they support this legislation. This truly is a grassroots effort that will succeed with your assistance or fail without it.  Use this URL http://www.mass.gov/legis/ to find the email address, phone number, and postal address for your legislators.

 

References

Davis, R.L. (2010, July 19). Prevention versus protection: Law enforcement, homicide, and domestic violence.

            www.policeone.com Retrieved February 8, 2011 from http://tinyurl.com/2vytuts

Cramer, M. (2010, September 25). Spike in violence has city on edge. Boston Globe. p. B1

Globe Staff (2010, September 28). City residents reeling after Mattapan slayings. Boston.com

                Retrieved February 7, 2011 from http://tinyurl.com/39hp2ho

Hines, D.A. & Malley-Morrison, K. (2004) Family violence in the United States: Defining,

understanding and combating abuse. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications Retrieved

December 9, 2010 from http://tinyurl.com/36p2eh8

Hurley, D. (2004, January 6). Scientist at work—Felton Earls; On crime as science (A neighbor at a time) . The New York Times.

                 Retrieved February 10, 2011 from http://tinyurl.com/4l2rpg9

Knox, L. (2002, June). Connecting the dots to prevent youth violence. American Medical Association. Retrieved

                February 8, 2011 from http://tinyurl.com/25g3mpn

Kruttschnitt, C., McLaughlin, B.L., & Petrie, C.V. (Eds), (2004). Advancing the federal research

                 agenda on violence against women. National Academies Press, Washington, D.C.

                Retrieved February 15, 2009 http://tinyurl.com/cgsytm

Lang, M. (2010, July 10). Some laud new antiviolence effort. Boston.com. Retrieved February 8, 2011

                From http://tinyurl.com/32546v9

McGrory, B. (2010, September, 29). We’ve hit a new low in depravity. Boston.com. Retrieved

                February 7, 2011 from http://tinyurl.com/4vb2yad

National Coiliation Against Domestic Violence (2011, February, 7, 2011) http://www.ncadv.org/

Murphy, S. (2010, November 29). Specialists say bullies also need attention. Boston Globe

Retrieved December 9, 2010 from http://tinyurl.com/23r8ak5

Reiss, A.J., Jr., & Roth, J.A. (1993). Understanding and preventing violence. Washington, D.C.:

                National Academy Press Retrieved February 16, 2009 from http://tinyurl.com/csluc5  

Tremblay, R.E., Gervais, J., & Petitclerc, A. (2008). Early childhood learning prevents youth

                violence. Montreal, Quebec. Centre of Excellence for Early Childhood Development

                Retrieved November 16, 2009 from http://tinyurl.com/4jz9jy2

WomensLaw.org. Retrieved November 16, 2009 from http://tinyurl.com/yf3x232

 

 

CREATING FAMILY HARMONY

By Shirley Pearson, MA, CAGS, School Psychologist (ret)

In order to create a more peaceful society, it is necessary to raise our children without physical assaults or verbal abuse. This article offers some strategies that will help achieve this goal.

Most of us picture parenthood as an exciting time and look forward to loving, nurturing and protecting the wonderful “bundle of joy” that will join our lives. Babies are, indeed, adorable and we all love to be with them, EXCEPT when problems arise in the area of discipline as they grow and learn.

We are all born with intrinsic needs. Early in our lives survival is the most crucial, and we need parents to provide food, warmth, clothing, shelter and security in order to grow and thrive. As we grow and thrive because of the parents who have taken loving care of our survival needs, other emotional/psychological needs emerge. These include:

LOVE AND BELONGING – being part of a loving family and having friends.

POWER – self awareness, self-worth, self-esteem, success.

FREEDOM – making choices and decisions about our lives.

FUN – playing, learning and engaging in enjoyable activities.

So what can parents do to provide an environment to help their children grow physically, psychologically and emotionally? We all develop pictures in our minds of people, things and activities that make us happy. If parents have loved and nurtured us, we will probably want to please them. As children grow, they need to learn the rules of appropriate behavior from their parents. All behavior is purposeful, and we use it to fulfill our needs and wants. For example, when a toddler runs into the street, a parent removes him from the danger and tells him “No, no”, and explains to him the danger of running into the street. Because children are naturally curious, his want was to explore, and the parent’s want was to keep him safe. As children grow up, they develop many wants in addition to their needs. Parents generally supply their needs, however, certain “wants” may be harmful to the child, and that is where peaceful strategies are helpful. It is best if these strategies are started as soon as children are able to understand rules and consequences, but it is “better to start late than never”. Following are a couple of strategies that have been shown to work in many families. These strategies are designed to prevent or to solve family conflicts in a peaceful way, avoiding yelling, blaming, ridiculing, spanking, etc.

(1) FAMILY MEETINGS: Parents meet with their child to discuss how to live together in loving, peaceful ways. This requires agreeing on basic reasonable rules and consequences. There will be some rules that parents must enforce that are nonnegotiable. For example, doing homework and using appropriate language with family members. Other rules having to do with chores, bedtime, etc. can be negotiated, depending on the age of the child. Consequences for rule infraction should be clear and agreed upon. Drawing up this agreement is not always easy and will require compromise on the part of parent and child. It should be kept brief and to the point, written down and signed. Include a date for reviewing either the agreement or the plan to see if it is working well for both parties. If at any time the plan is not working for either party, the child or parent can ask for another meeting right away.

(2) PROBLEM SOLVING:
• Discuss peacefully — Ask, “What is the problem? What did you want when you used the inappropriate behavior?” Name the behavior specifically. Never ask why, as this question will lead to a string of excuses for the behavior.
• Decide together what each of you is willing to do to solve the problem.
• Make a plan for success. Write down exactly what each of you will do and set a time for reviewing the plan. The younger the child, the shorter the time should be for review. Both parties sign the agreement.
• Try the plan for an agreed amount of time, and meet to evaluate what is working and what needs to be revised to make the plan work. Child or parent can call another session before the specified time if the plan is not working.
• Follow the revised plan or continue with the original plan if it is working well.
It is very important that these meetings be peaceful. If yelling, blaming or inappropriate language are used by either party, the meeting should be stopped and rescheduled.
Basically, we all engage in inappropriate behavior or misbehavior at times to meet our needs or wants. The major acting-out behaviors generally fall into the following three categories: self-indulgence, non-compliance and aggression. Here are some examples of the behaviors and appropriate consequences.

(a) Self-indulgence: having a tantrum, crying, whining, pouting, nagging, lying, cheating. It’s best to tell the child that you will talk when he/she has calmed down. Don’t try to reason with anyone engaging in this type of behavior until they have calmed down. If you are in a public setting, lead the child away, or if an adolescent, you remove yourself until the person is calm. Follow up with a Problem Solving session.

(b) Non-compliance: refusal to comply with reasonable rules and/or requests, stalling when asked to do something. If the child is very young the parent can lead her/him through the task and then give objective feedback; for example, the child refuses to pick up toys, lead her through the task and tell her, “Look, all the toys are put away. Now we can do – (whatever activity would be next, hopefully something pleasant or fun). Follow up with a Problem Solving session.
(c) Aggression: behavior that directly affects others in a harmful way or
damages/destroys property or objects. Some examples of verbal aggression are name-calling, put-downs, teasing and belittling another person. Physical aggression includes bullying, hitting, kicking, biting, spitting, stealing, etc. When a child becomes aggressive, an immediate time-out should be given. The length of the time-out should be the child’s age plus five minutes for pre-adolescent children. For adolescents, privileges should be removed for a time. Follow up with a problem solving session.
Agreeing on a family plan with age-appropriate rules and consequences will help you and your children enjoy life together in FAMILY HARMONY.

1 Glasser, William REALITY THERAPY, New York: Harper & Row, 1965.

The author of this article is a retired School Psychologist and has taught these strategies to parents, children and faculty in schools. For additional helpful information on parenting, she recommends PEACEFUL PARENTING by Dr. Nancy Buck. You can contact her office to order her book by calling 401-662-5788, or writing to PEACEFUL PARENTING, P0 BOX 1315, CHARLESTOWN, RI, 02813. You can also order online atsusanpeacefulparenting.com. The book costs $14.00 plus $3.99 shipping and handling. There is also a companion workbook which may be helpfuL

Bullying

A January 31st 2010 Boston Globe editorial about bullying proffers that:

No law will encompass all that needs to be done. Schools need to be pushed by parents and students to seize the initiative on bullying, and to develop well-rounded approaches to preventing it and defusing it when it does arise.

Direct or indirect assaultive or coercive behavior is the conduit that connects child, sibling, bullying, dating, spousal, intimate partner and elder abuse. Similar to all of these behaviors, bullying, at its core, is a use of direct or indirect assaultive or coercive behavior to change or alter the behavior of another person. Bullying does not spontaneously occur when children enter school. Rather than having schools pushed by parents and children to end bullying, the change must begin at home. All of these behaviors arise at birth. Parents need to teach children, from the day they are born, to understand that the use of direct or indirect assaultive or coercive behavior is wrong. Waiting until children enter our schools is often too little, too late. Parents must understand that children replicate what parents do, not what they say.

While there may be no law that can encompass all that needs to be done, surely a law that forbids the use of, and the condoning of, belts or other injurious instruments to beat children in attempt to change or alter their behavior is a simple but important first lesson for everyone. How does our society, including our schools and parents, expect to end the use of assaultive or coercive behavior, in the form of bullying or any of these other aberrant behaviors, while parents continue to use or condone the use of belts or other injurious instrument?

Protecting children from neglect and abuse is among the most important responsibilities of the state.

Boston Globe, November 7, 2009, p. A10

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Punishment with belts or other instruments is abuse

Domestic Violence Awareness month has been observed in October for almost a generation. While there is no single acceptable definition, most researchers agree that domestic violence is assaultive or coercive behavior by one family member or intimate partner against another family member or intimate partner with the intent to change or alter their behavior.

Approximately 18 years ago, domestic violence was so epidemic in Massachusetts that Governor Weld declared a state of emergency. On June 5, 2008, Governor Patrick again declared a domestic violence emergency. At that second declaration Lieutenant Governor Murray announced that the administration’s goal is to better understand the pattern of domestic violence.

The misconception that domestic violence victims are primarily or exclusively adult heterosexual females continues to persist. However, most researchers acknowledge that domestic violence does not spontaneously appear the day heterosexual intimate partners are considered adults. Domestic violence is a complex and multifaceted enigma that stretches across one’s life span and presents as child, sibling, dating, spousal, intimate partner or elder abuse regardless of sexual orientation.

It is generally agreed that dating or teen intimate partner violence (TIPV) is a gateway to adult (IPV). A growing number of researchers document that bullying behavior is a gateway to (TIPV) and that family and environmental violence is a gateway to bullying behavior.

It is time to recognize that beating children with belts or other injurious instruments is violent behavior. Reactionary law enforcement intervention is necessary to defuse a volatile incident and ensure, at least temporarily, the safety of the victims. However, Family NonViolence, Inc (FNI), http://familynonviolence.wordpress.com. believes it is time that legislators and interveners recognize that education and role modeling efforts need to be prioritized if the goal is to reduce or prevent domestic violence.

Improbable Beliefs

FNI has observed that domestic violence prevention efforts have not progressed well as it should or could over the last 18 years. Clearly, this demonstrates that it is improbable to impossible for parents, as role models, to teach children how to manage their aggressive behavior while they beat them with belts or other injurious instruments. Parents need to recognize they have a responsibility to teach their children that violent assaultive or coercive behavior is unacceptable.

At a 2007, legislative hearing, Senator Spilka, who is the Chair of the Committee for Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities expressed her belief that the beating of children with “belts and extension cords” would likely cross the line into child abuse under current law. Senator Spilka is mistaken.

Over the years, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (MSJC) has ruled that it is permissible, (hence acceptable behavior) for parents and guardians to beat their children with belts or other injurious instruments.  In 1999, the MSJC ruled that a minister did not abuse his handicapped son when he beat him with a belt. A justice noted that, “We do not hold this case to be a close one, and that the belt “only” left pink marks on the child’s buttocks and “only” the soft end of the belt was used.

In 2005, a Plymouth father beat his child with a belt because his son “forgot his school books.” He was arrested by the Plymouth Police, who recognize that they should take all assaults with a dangerous weapon seriously. The District Attorney’s Office refused (perhaps because of previous MSJC decisions) to prosecute the case.

A Call for Help

If viewed logically or with some “common sense,” it should be obvious to our legislator in particular or society in general that to prevent or reduce domestic violence, the beating of our children with belts or other injurious instruments is violence and it must cease. It was not that long ago that spousal abuse was condoned or ignored by legislators and society. It will be impossible to convince contemporary society that family or IPV physical assaults are aberrant behavior, while, as a society, we continue to condone the beating of our weakest and most disempowered family members with belts or other injurious instruments.

FNI has received the support of three members of the house to support legislation that would forbid parents and guardians from beating their children with belts or injurious instruments. FNI and these house members need your help in gaining the support of more legislators.  We request that you contact your house and senate legislator and ask that they provide FNI and their fellow legislators with support for this bill. If your legislator is willing to support this effort, please ask them to contact us at rldavis@post.havard.edu so that we might track the progress of this effort.  And please pass or email this handout to anyone you think is as concerned as we are.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________

“…it appalls me to think that anyone could try to justify the use of any instrument on anyone, let alone a child.” Massachusetts House of Representatives member Vincent A. Pedone

Family Nonviolence, Inc. has instituted a Restorative Justice Task Force that meets monthly and is committed to the goal of assisting the greater New Bedford community (including the criminal justice system) in implementing restorative justice policies and practices in it various structures to promote peace and reconciliation.

Basic Concepts of Restorative Justice

There are three basic “pillars” on which Restorative Justice is based.

First, it focuses on the harm that has been done to people and to communities. It begins with a concern for victims and their needs. It seeks to repair the harm that has been done as much as possible, even when no offender has been identified. It also recognizes that there has been harm to the community and to the offender as well as the identified victim or victims.

Second, Restorative Justice emphasizes offender accountability and responsibility. Offenders must be encouraged to understand the harm that they have done and to recognize that they have a responsibility to make things right as much as possible.

Third, the primary parties affected by the crime – victims, offenders, members of the community – need to have significant roles in the restorative justice process. In some cases this may mean dialogue between these parties. It may mean sharing stories of the incident of the crime itself – what happened and how it affected those involved – as well as deciding about what should be done to help “restore” the peace and relationships within the community.

“Restorative Justice requires, at minimum, that we address victims’ harms and needs, hold offenders accountable to put right those harms, and involve victims, offenders, and communities in this process.” (from The Little Book of Restorative Justice by Howard Zehr)

Models for Restorative Justice practice

Since this approach to dealing with interpersonal conflict and crime emerged from the original practice in aboriginal societies, in Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the United States, three main types of models have emerged.

Victim-Offender Conferences

These primarily involve victims and offenders who are first interviewed individually by a trained facilitator. If both parties seem willing to proceed with meeting together, they are brought together by the facilitator who guides the process.
This would normally result in a signed agreement as to how restitution can be made (although this is not likely in cases of severe violence

Family Group Conferences

This model involves family members of the victim and offender as well as any others who have an interest in or have a significant relationship to either the victim or the offender. Since the focus is not only on recognizing the harm done to the victim but also holding the offender accountable, it is important to include the offender’s family members and other significant persons in his/her life. Besides victim and offender family members other participants could include such persons as police officers, probation officers, victim advocates, and youth workers

Peacemaking Circles

In the circle process participants arrange themselves in a circle. They pass around a “talking piece’ which is used to indicate who the speaker of the moment is. One or two “Circle Keepers” or “Circle Servants” serve as facilitators of the circle. Members of the circle may include not only victims and offenders but also family members, members of the criminal justice system, community members who have a connection to either the offender or the victim. In the process of the Peacemaking Circle the person who holds the talking piece is the one who speaks and the person speaks about his or her own experience and does not lecture or address anyone else in the circle.

Relationship to the Criminal Justice System

Restorative Justice does not seek to replace the criminal justice system. It is viewed as an adjunct to the present legal process. Prosecutors may make a referral either pre or post plea and defer prosecution until there is an outcome in the restorative justice process. The restorative justice practice can sentence as well as order restitution. Then the court may drop the case. It is recognized that the criminal justice system is always a court of last resort.

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