Tackling Violence in Educational Environments using Restorative Justice Approaches

Jean Chrysostome Kiyala Kimbuku

Violence in the educational environment is widespread. in the World Report on Violence against Children initiated by the United Nations Secretary-General, four major forms of violence were identified – physical and psychological punishment, bullying, sexual and gender-based violence and external violence (gangs, weapons and fighting). Violence on university campuses is mainly directed at female students in the form of sexual assault, date-rape and stalking.

Educational institutions have largely adopted either a punitive approach (sanctions and expulsions) or the referral of offenders to the criminal justice system which seem to have limited deterrent effects.

This paper looks into two alternative approaches:

  1. Educating the students and staff of educational institutions in nonviolent conflict resolution
  2. The use of restorative justice mechanisms as a way of building or re-building – also known as transforming – the relationships between victims and offenders

I will argue with evidence that restorative justice mechanisms have the potentials to curb the cycle of violence and make educational institutions a safe environment for all. One of the objectives or restorative justice is “reducing [repeat anti-social behaviour] by encouraging change in individual offenders and facilitating their reintegration into the community”.