According to a piece in the St. Louis Review, a publication of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, Catholic schools there and in several other states are adapting restorative practices to a Catholic-school context with great success. In the article titled, "Restoring a safe, positive, welcome for all students," writer Joseph Kenny begins:
Fourteen schools in the Archdiocese of St. Louis have become certified as virtue-based restorative discipline (VBRD) schools, addressing bullying issues through Catholic identity and restoring a safe, positive and welcoming environment for all.
Designed to decrease anti-social behaviors and increase faith practices, the initiative developed in the Archdiocese of St. Louis "challenges us to rethink our approach to peer mistreatment and traditional discipline," according to Lynne M. Lang, director of school climate for the archdiocese. It does not completely end bullying but consistently addresses it, she said.
Required is a collaborative effort of parents, educators and students. Children, Lang noted, watch adult behavior, "and this gives us some way to model holy behavior for our children."
The article quotes claims of the effectiveness of the program and credits restorative practices as a key component:
"Of the schools that worked to implement VBRD with fidelity, 86 percent enjoyed a significant, positive change in their school culture according to the year-end survey," Lang said. Becoming nationally certified VBRD schools "means they have committed to cultivating virtue and to ongoing training to implement restorative practices. They showed substantial, measurable improvements in school climate."
Virtue education offers a positive way to approach harmful behavior and when combined with restorative practices helps all parties involved to make things as right as possible when necessary. Restorative discipline is a way to hold students accountable for their actions while asking them to take responsibility for restoring relationships, Lang said. This approach is consistent with faith teaching in loving God, neighbor and self, she added.
Read the full article.