Experience of victims weighs on restorative justice

Community justice forums and other restorative justice processes are centered on the experiences of victims.

Community justice forums and other restorative justice processes are centered on the experiences of victims.  They also give offenders the opportunity to take responsibility for their actions.

A further important benefit, that is sometimes overlooked, is that they can lead to understanding and connection between people who were feeling hurt and angry.  This week’s story is about how an incident of sexual harassment in a school in Maryland was resolved.

In the school cafeteria line, a 14 year-old boy took his friend’s hand, and placed it on the breast of the girl behind them.  The girl ran out of the cafeteria in tears, and the boys were suspended for 25 days.  The girl’s father still wanted to have them arrested, but he agreed to attend a community conference before taking that step.

At the conference, the boy who instigated the incident sat slumped in his chair, arms crossed, and gave a quiet, short version of what happened.  The other boy was very apologetic as he spoke about what happened.  The girl let them know how hurt she was.

Her mother pleadingly asked the boys, “How would you feel if someone did that to your sister?”

The girl’s father was even more emotional, saying he lost a lot of sleep wondering if this was planned, or if it was just a stupid last-minute prank.  “It just happened.  We didn’t plan it.”

After several others spoke, the girl’s father saw the instigator still slumped with arms crossed, and said, “This is a waste of time.  He’s just not getting it.”

The boy’s mother interjected, “He looks like this now, but he’s been crying at home over this.”  Everyone was quiet, realizing that we don’t teach or allow our boys to show vulnerability.

The conversation continued, and within a minute tears were rolling down the boy’s cheeks.

At that moment, the girl’s father leaned toward him and said, “Son, you don’t realize the consequences of what you’re doing, because you could end up in jail, and there are far too many African-American men in jail.  And I don’t want that to happen to you because I love you and want you to make the most of your life.”

Tears welled in everyone’s eyes.  The boys apologized to the girl, her parents, their own family and the principal.

The girl’s father suggested that the boys should return to school, and their role should be to protect the girls in that school.  The principal agreed to let them back.

The girl’s father said that he would check up on the boys every week, which he did for the remaining eight months of that school year.

Richard Tarnoff is coordinator of the Boundary Restorative Justice Program. Assistance from the Independent Academic Research Studies program, UK, is gratefully acknowledged. Trail is served by the Greater Trail Community Justice Program. Visit their website www.greatertrailcommunityjustice.com.

Just Posted

The Trail Smoke Eaters will open the 2021 season on Oct. 8 against the Cranbrook Bucks in Cranbrook, and will have their home opener the next night against the same Bucks. Photo: Jack Murray
BC Hockey League announces 54-game schedule to begin in October

Trail Smoke Eaters open season with home-and-home series versus Cranbrook Bucks

“The Spirit of Family” enhances the Beaver Valley both in the daytime and at night. Photo: Submitted
Family sculpture installed at the Fruitvale Memorial Hall

Locals are encouraged to swing by Fruitvale Memorial Hall to take a… Continue reading

In 1927, swimmers enjoyed a day in the water at the CGIT and CSET Camp in Summerland. While none of the people in this photograph have smart phones, there is some debate about whether a beach image from the United Kingdom in 1943 shows a man using a smart phone. (Photograph courtesy of the Summerland Museum)
COLUMN: The mystery of the time-travelling tourist

Was the man in a 1943 photograph checking his smart phone?

The flotation line at Gyro Park beach in East Trail, shown here during low water, is for emergency purposes only and does not delineate a safe swimming area. Photo: Trail Times file
City of Trail cautions beach users

Gyro Park beach questions should be directed to the roads superintendent at 250.364.0817.

Presently in Canada, it is illegal to be in possession of a personal stun gun. Use of this tool is only licensed to federal and provincial police officers. The personal use of stun guns by unlicensed civilians is considered to be illegal and considered under the Canadian Criminal Code to be the equivalent of a weapon. Anyone found importing or in possession of a personal stun gun and is not a licensed law enforcement officer can be prosecuted under the Canadian Criminal Code. Photo: BC RCMP
Trail man faces weapons charge after police confiscate stun gun

The incident took place on Sunday near downtown Trail

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Grace (left), a caribou that was born in a maternal pen north of Revelstoke, is alive and well said the province. It appears she even has a calf. Maternity pens aim to increase caribou calf survival by protecting them from predation until they are older and less vulnerable. (Contributed)
For the first time in years, caribou numbers increasing near Revelstoke

North herd growing but south herd still concerning

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

Kelowna General Hospital. (File photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at Kelowna General Hospital declared over

Three people tested positive for the virus — two patients and one staff — one of whom died

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The B.C. government’s vaccine booking website is busy processing second-dose appointments, with more than 76 per cent of adults having received a first dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations stable for Tuesday

108 new confirmed cases, 139 in hospital, 39 in intensive care

Most Read