Integrating Restorative Practices and Bullying Prevention

We have reached an understanding that effective schools have one common and critical characteristic: a safe and supportive school community. We also know that a safe and supportive school community is the heart of restorative practices and that bullying cannot flourish in these environments. Despite this common understanding, we remain unsure how to integrate restorative practices and bullying prevention within a comprehensive school-wide initiative.

Restorative practitioners, bullying prevention experts, mental health practioners, and policymakers came together to provide this direction. The result of their two-year effort is the white paper entitled Integrating Bullying Prevention and Restorative Practices in Schools: Considerations for Practitioners and Policymakers. With the goal of connecting research- and evidence-based bullying prevention programs with restorative practices, the workgroup first described the problem of bullying, shared best practices in bullying prevention, and laid the foundation for restorative practices. The remainder of this white paper provides opportunities and cautions in integrating bullying prevention and restorative practices.

Some Examples of Appropriate Integration

  • School staff work with trained professionals to identify specific research- and evidence-based bullying prevention and restorative practices initiatives.
  • The implementation process includes wide-spread training of school personnel and a systematic plan, among other considerations, to ensure fidelity of the process.
  • The bullying prevention and restorative practices integrated efforts are preventative efforts, leading to changes in the overall school culture.
  • Parents are engaged in solutions to bullying incidents.
  • Data is collected and analyzed throughout the process to monitor and adjust implementation for greatest impact.
Some Examples of Inappropriate Integration
  • Schools do not choose high quality and proven bullying prevention programs.
  • The implementation process does not provide adequate training for staff and does not tend to the fidelity of the implementation process.
  • Restorative practices are used in bullying situations, rather than in day-to-day activities.
  • Inadequate time and resources for staff prevent the success of the integration.
  • Adults do not play a prominent facilitator role in mediating bullying situations and instead use coercion and other unhealthy strategies to engage students.
  • No systematic evaluation of the integration prevents reflection and improvement.
Integrating restorative practices and bullying prevention should be part of a systemic and comprehensive plan to build and strengthen the school community. This white paper provides clear guidance on how to proceed. However, the impact of this integration remains unknown, and research in this area is still needed.

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