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Bullying and victimisation in schools: a restorative justice approach

Trends & issues in crime and criminal justice no. 219

Brenda Morrison
ISBN 0 642 24252 6 ISSN 0817-8542
Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology, February 2002

Abstract

This paper describes the background to and implementation of the Responsible Citizenship Program (RCP) among all Year 5 students in an A.C.T. government primary school. The RCP is a restorative justice program which aims to combat bullying in schools byincorporating a range of related processes for maintaining healthy relationships, including community building, conflict resolution and shame management. Evaluation of the program showed that students' feelings of safety increased over the course of theprogram; they reported a small increase in use of adaptive shame management skills and a significant decrease in maladaptive shame management; and there were increases in measures of respect, consideration and participation. The paper concludes that restorative justice approaches are effective in bringing about positive behavioural change in the school setting, and that it is important that schools be adequately resourced to address the debilitating social problem of bullying.

This paper is taken from the report of research undertaken with the assistance of a grant from the Criminology Research Council.