Wednesday, June 3, 2015
Restorative Justice Lags in Minority Schools
Schools today are more frequently using punitive discipline practices to control student behavior, despite the greater effectiveness of community-building techniques on compliance that are based on restorative justice principles found in the criminal justice system. Prior research testing the racial threat hypothesis has found that the racial composition of schools is associated with the use of more punitive and less reparative approaches to discipline, just as it has been associated with criminal justice harshness. However, no research to date has assessed the possibility that school-level racial composition may affect the likelihood that specific restorative justice techniques, which are the most commonly used alternative, will be implemented.
This study is the first to test the racial threat perspective in relation to use of the restorative practices: student conferences, peer mediation, restitution, and community service.
The study finds that schools with proportionally more Black students are less likely to use such techniques when responding to student behavior. This finding has several troubling implications for minority students in particular and for education as a whole.