CURB Presentation On Restorative Practices

November 18, 2019 | 1 Comment

Restorative Practices, and the potential for Bermuda’s school and criminal justice systems, was given a unanimous thumbs-up at a presentation with international expert Koury Cook.

A CURB spokesperson said, “Approximately 40% of attendees at the presentation completed a CURB survey at the conclusion of the presentation, with 100% of them supporting the introduction of Restorative Practices into the Bermuda Police Service, the Department of Corrections and the Bermuda Education System.

“Additionally, they suggested community organizations such as KEMH and healthcare, families, communities, churches, workplaces, unions, sports teams, charities, government departments and politics incorporate Restorative Practices as well.

“Mr. Cook’s presentation, hosted by CURB, gave a broad overview of the core values, methods and research of Restorative Practices, which focuses less on a punitive approach, towards one that prioritizes the human need for connection, active empathy and community, but without compromising accountability/consequences.

IIRP Licensed Trainers

IIRP Licensed Trainers Bermuda Nov 2019

“Restorative Practices are 80% proactive, and 20% reactive,” said Mr. Cook. “It’s not just about the methods of Restorative Practices, it’s really about creating a culture where everyone is valued, and everyone is supported. Many of us are already implicitly restorative: what Restorative Practices does is allow us to be intentionally restorative.”

“CURB invited Mr. Cook of the International Institute of Restorative Practices [IIRP] to train twelve Bermudians, already trained as Restorative Practitioners/Facilitators by CURB, to become Licensed Trainers with the IIRP. They completed their training Saturday 16th November and will begin the work of transforming their organizations into restorative spaces by training others to become Restorative Practitioners.

“Systems are there for one purpose, to serve people, and they often become disconnected from that. What Restorative Practices does is allow organizations to live-out that purpose at every level, and in all interactions.”

“Mr. Cook’s presentation was followed by a panel discussion with Gail Smith, Principal of St George’s Preparatory school; Stacey Williams, Diversity Coordinator at Somersfield Academy; Hashim Estwick, Chief Inspector with the BPS; and Pastor Leroy Bean, Gang Reduction Coordinator for the Bermuda Government.

“Each shared their experience with becoming trained in Restorative Practices by CURB and using them in their fields. They attested to the simplicity of the model and the transformational impact it’s begun to have on their personal interactions and on their organizations overall, with St George’s Preparatory school on track to have all teaching staff trained in Restorative Practices by February 2020, a key step in the process to becoming Bermuda’s first fully restorative school.

“Our PTA has been very supportive,” said Ms Smith. “They’ve fully funded the training so all of our teaching staff can become certified.”

“Students inherently enjoy the opportunity to participate in circles,” one of the Restorative Practices methods, “they’re adept at sharing their feelings and get a lot out of the process. When we get to the part where we ask ‘what needs to happen to fix this’, the person harmed has usually asked for two things, a sincere apology and for the behavior to stop. We were expecting long lists, but for the students to know someone is sincerely sorry and is going to make a change has been enough.”

“By using circles to create relationships on a regular basis [80%], when the time comes to need a circle to deal with a harmful incident [20%], the students understand the process and want to participate because they see it as fair. Ms Smith added that students who have been through the restorative process of circles have begun to request them in order to resolve issues with other students.

“Attendees also confirmed they had a much better understanding of Restorative Practices when used in schools as a preventative tool to strengthen relationships and build community and in the process prevent bullying, reduce suspensions and referrals to the principal. They also gained understanding that Restorative Justice didn’t mean that it was ‘soft on crime’ but learned how it worked to bring closure for victims and accountability for those who caused harm.

“Mr. Cook joined the IIRP in 2015 as a full-time instructor for the Continuing Education Unit, after fifteen years in law enforcement serving youth and families. Koury specializes in working with leadership to support large scale implementation of Restorative Practices across a wide variety of systems.

“To take advantage of one of CURB’s IIRP Restorative Practices trainings, please email admin@uprootingracism.org or call 707.1496. For more information on Restorative Practices you can visit www.iirp.edu.”

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