Special Report: Restorative Practice

Restorative practice is now being used across a wide range of services for vulnerable children, young people and families and has a distinct set of principles and standards underpinning the approach.

Many practitioners working with young people will be familiar with the term restorative justice and its association with youth justice but may be less familiar with the broader context of restorative practices. The American criminologist Howard Zehr in his 1990 book Changing Lenses: A New Focus for Crime and Justice is credited with articulating the first theory of restorative justice suggesting a paradigm shift in the way offending is viewed to one where crime is regarded as a violation of people and relationships rather than an offence against the state.

The exact parameters of the paradigm are still contested and terminology now includes the broader term "restorative practices". However, the International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP) suggests that restorative justice is a reactive sub-set of the broader and more proactive restorative practices. Ted Wachtel, the founder of the IIRP, suggests that restorative justice consists of "formal or informal responses to crime and other wrongdoing after it occurs" whereas restorative practices are "the use of informal and formal processes that precede wrongdoing, those that proactively build relationships and a sense of community to prevent conflict and wrongdoing" (see research evidence).

CYP Now's special report on restorative practice summarises the development and evolution of restorative practices with children and families, outlines recent research findings on its impact and showcases examples of innovative practice in a range of settings.

Click on these article links for more:

Policy Context

Research Evidence:

Restorative Practices and the Life-World Implications of a New Social Science

Family Violence, Fathers, and Restoring Personhood

Exploring Approaches to Child Welfare in the Contexts of Domestic Violence and Abuse: Family Group Conferences

The Integrated Model of Restorative Supervision for Use Within Safeguarding

Practice examples:

Restorative Practice in Schools

West Berkshire Council

Bristol Reparation Service

Lifelong Links


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