By Nancy Riestenberg

Nancy Riestenberg is a prevention specialist with the Minnesota (USA) Department of Education’s Safe and Healthy Learners Unit. She presents workshops on bullying prevention, restorative practices in schools and school climate.

In a recovery school, the students commit to working on recovery from chemical dependency and addiction while becoming successful students. Since all of the students attending the school have been in chemical dependency treatment, the safety of the environment is the first concern of students, their families and staff. Applying restorative principles and the process of the circle has helped one recovery school create a truly respectful, student-centered program.

PEASE Academy (“Peers Enjoying A Sober Education”), located in a church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, was the first recovery high school in the United States, founded in February 1989. During the last several years, through staff training and application, the school has incorporated the circle process and restorative principles into its program. Circles are used on Mondays and Fridays for youth to check in about the highs and lows in their sobriety. All 65 students and about five staff participate in the circles.

By Mary Shafer

When I arrived at the Community Service Foundation’s (CSF) foster girls’ group home in Quakertown, Pennsylvania, USA, houseparent Linda Anschuetz showed me into the dining room. She motioned me to a chair by the table, around which six pairs of teen-age eyes—alternately curious and suspicious—focused on me. Who was this stranger who’d arrived in the midst of their safe, carefully structured environment, and what did I want?

Linda quickly dispelled any misgivings. She told them I was writing about the program and encouraged everyone to introduce themselves and to make me feel welcome. Most of the girls smiled at me. A few looked shy.

Quickly, one of them offered her name and a friendly, “Hi!” The rest, ranging in age from 14 to 17, continued introductions. I detected a range of personality types, from outgoing to withdrawn.

The July 2005 American edition of "Good Housekeeping", one of the top-selling magazines in the U.S., features a story on restorative justice called "Putting Out the Fire." The article tells the story of a family in La Crosse, Wisconsin, USA, whose house was destroyed in a random act of arson by two teenage boys. The article is reprinted here (PDF), with permission.

By Abbey J. Porter

Flags from many nations stand outside the U.N. Crime Congress plenary hall.Restorative justice is playing an increasingly significant role in countries all over the globe, and its influence will likely continue to grow. That message emerged clearly-and in many languages-when people from around the world gathered for the Eleventh United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, held April 18-25, 2005, in Bangkok, Thailand.

The congress established a “new high-water mark” for restorative justice on the U.N. stage, said IIRP Director of Research Paul McCold, who participated in the event and witnessed an unprecedented level of interest in restorative practices.

By Laura Mirsky

Honor student and second-degree black belt in karate Gino LeeFamily group decision making (FGDM, also known as family group conferencing or FGC) has made a big difference in the lives of many families. The story of how FGDM helped one family in Los Angeles County, California, USA, is a textbook example of just how powerful the FGDM process can be. FGDM helped this family ensure the well-being of a child who had fallen through the cracks of the child welfare system. Through an FGDM conference, the child’s extended family was empowered to make a plan for him, and this once troubled boy is now thriving and happy, living with his birth parents.

Not long after Gino Lee was born, his mother, Gina, had a nervous breakdown, and his father, Carl, took her to the hospital. Afraid that Gina might pose a threat to her child, the hospital staff contacted the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).

An article onrestorative practices in schools appears in the May 17, 2005, editionof School Board News, published by the National School BoardsAssociation, a nonprofit federation of state associations of schoolboards that represents about 15,000 local school districts throughoutthe United States. The report, by Carol Chmelynski, covers restorativeinitiatives across the US, including PEASE Academy, a school inMinnesota for students recovering from drug and alcohol addiction, apilot program in six Wisconsin school districts and the IIRP''sSaferSanerSchools program.


By Abbey J. Porter
 Queanbeyan South Public School is a 2004 winner of an Australian Crime and Violence Prevention Award, sponsored by the governments of Australia and New Zealand, for “Real Justice in a Safe and Happy School.”

Restorative practices have proved a success at a primary school in Australia, where teachers have discovered that discipline works much better when the children themselves take part in the process.

A few years ago, Queanbeyan South Public School, in New South Wales, just outside the Australian capital of Canberra, was struggling with persistent problems of bullying, violence and absenteeism among its pupils. Conventional punishments like detentions and suspensions didn’t seem to help. “We were just chasing our tails,” recalled teacher Elizabeth Harley, who said that disrespect for authority and low self-esteem were common among the students.

"Supporting Pupils, Schools and Families: An Evaluation of the Hampshire Family Group Conferences in Education Project,"a report by the University of Sheffield, England, UK, evaluates 50family group conferences (FGCs) carried out in schools in HampshireCounty, from implementation through many months after each conference.The FGCs were meant to help young people aged 5-15 with behavior andattendance problems, but often addressed family and welfare issues aswell. FGCs were seen as having a significantly positive effect:Presenting problems improved in over half of the young people studied;90 percent of family members said they would recommend FGCs to others;and young people said they found the FGCs to be helpful.

Information on the IIRP''s conference in Penrith, New South Wales, Australia, March 3-5, 2005, including plenary sessions.

In this paper, Shannon Pakura, chief social worker, New Zealand Department of Child, Youth and Family Services, Wellington, New Zealand, discusses the challenges that family group conferencing (FGC) has encountered and acknowledges successes achieved since FGC has been integrated into New Zealand''s youth justice and child welfare systems. The paper was presented at the third in a series of three IIRP conferences with the theme, "Building a Global Alliance for Restorative Practices and Family Empowerment," in Penrith, Australia, March 3-5, 2005.

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