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September 2011 | Volume 69 | Number 1
Promoting Respectful Schools Pages 45-49

Building Safer, Saner Schools

Laura Mirsky

In schools that use restorative practices, students learn to confront their unacceptable behavior, repair the harm they've done, and build community.

A student gets angry and curses at his teacher, and she sends him to the assistant principal, who suspends him from school for three days. We lament the lack of civility, the loss of behavioral boundaries, and the irresponsible parents who have raised this child; and we justify the punishment as "holding the student accountable for his behavior."

Accountable? How so? The punishment is passive. The student doesn't have to do anything. He stays angry with the teacher and the assistant principal. He thinks he's the victim.


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