Recently Mayor Rahm Emmanuel formed a Commission for a Safer Chicago that pulled together over 130 community and faith leaders, practitioners, subject matter experts, city staff, parents, and youth united in the belief that violence is preventable, not inevitable. The commission has created a Strategic Plan for Youth Violence for 2015. Its pillars include creating restorative school communities and building bridges between youth and police. Watch a video about the commission's strategic plan and read an excerpt from the executive summary below.
Creating Restorative School Communities (From the executive summary)
Youth who are engaged in school and learning are at lower risk for violence. Chicago Public Schools has worked with stakeholders and partners to develop strategies that get students to school; keep them on track by overcoming academic hurdles; and replace the zero tolerance discipline policies with “restorative practices” that prevent and de-escalate conflict by addressing the underlying causes of personal conflicts and misconduct. The working group made recommendations designed to further engage schools, parents and community members in the use of these restorative practices:
- Establish 3 new community-based restorative justice hubs to support and complement the restorative practices work being undertaken in schools.
- Train and place parents into at least 4 new schools to participate in and help lead restorative practices.
- Create a principal challenge grant program to encourage principals to develop and implement proposals to employ restorative practices in their schools.
- Develop a restorative practices “Toolkit” of techniques and support materials to help schools expand their use of restorative practices.
- Conduct coordinated principal outreach and peer-to-peer education.
- Develop and promote a restorative practices education campaign for parents and community stakeholders that includes an experiential learning component.
Read a 2014 Restorative Works article about restorative practices in Chicago schools.