Examining Restorative Justice in PK12 With a Lens Through Kohlberg's Theory

Examining Restorative Justice in PK12 With a Lens Through Kohlberg's Theory

Cindy Sytsma (National University, USA) and Dina Pacis (National University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7582-5.ch001

Abstract

Restorative justice serves to facilitate juvenile offenders in taking responsibility for their actions via dialogue with victim, victim's family, and community. In the PK12 setting, this model uses classroom circles to set academic goals, explore curriculum, develop core values, fairness communities, and peer juries to talk with students about causes and identify positive issues to repair the harm done. Kohlberg's theory informs the use and implementation of restorative justice with its six stages of moral development. This chapter will examine Kohlberg's theory coupled with restorative justice at the PK12 level. The application of these philosophies may lead to early development of positive decision making, value of self, good communication skills, and ethical problem solving. By establishing these psychological/sociological foundations in early childhood, children may be able to secure friendly relationships and orient more easily towards fixed rules.
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Background

More than any other time in past and contemporary history, our youth are playing impactful roles in our nation and across the world. In the words of Isaac Asimov (1984), “humanity has the stars in its future, and that future is too important to be lost under the burden of juvenile folly and ignorant superstition” (https://www.ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/population/overview.html).

The segment of juveniles that most applies to this work is the group commonly known as those at-risk youth. In order to better understand this population, a view into how the term is defined is needed. At its most basic, at-risk youth are those whose futures appear to have less than ideal outcomes. The National Center for School Engagement (2018) identifies several reasons youth may be defined at-risk. They include the following:

Key Terms in this Chapter

Character Education: Character education addresses challenging issues in education while fostering a positive school climate.

Restorative Justice: Empowers students to resolve conflicts on their own and in small groups.

Moral Reasoning: A thinking process with the objective of determining whether an idea is right or wrong.

School Discipline: A required set of actions by a teacher or administrator towards a student (or group of students) when the student's behavior disrupts the ongoing teaching and learning.

Corporal Punishment: The infliction of physical pain or discomfort by parents or other adult guardians, including school officials for purposes of punishing unacceptable behavior.

Juvenile: A person who has not attained his or her eighteenth birthday.

Zero Tolerance: Is policy which imposes strict punishment for infractions of a stated rule, with the intention of eliminating undesirable conduct.

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