This study applied a system-change framework to examine how improving a school staff’s ability to develop and implement restorative justice (RJ) programming can promote positive social interactions among students and staff that improve school safety.
Restorative justice aims to address problem behaviors and interpersonal conflict in schools by structuring a means of resolving problematic behaviors that is non-punitive while promoting constructive change that supports positive development in the offender and protects against harm to the safety of students and staff. Despite RJ’s aspiration for transformative school change, however, research on RJ implementation in schools has not been guided by systems frameworks and has rarely been subjected to rigorous scientific evaluation. In addressing this issue, the current qualitative study applied a system-change framework in examining how organizational system structure affects RJ implementation. Findings highlight how RJ implementation and effectiveness are influenced by a school’s material resources, social relationships, beliefs about teaching and discipline, and decisions by principals on the implementation of RJ practices. Findings also emphasize the importance of developing RJ staff capacity in a way that promotes the use of procedures and techniques proven effective in similar school environments. 2 tables and 33 references