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

Stolen sax, sheet music, impacts Trail big-band and after school band

Anyone with information is urged to call the Trail RCMP detachment at 250.364.2566

Extensive road repair nears completion in Fruitvale

The scope of work includes new water and sewer service connections as well as road resurfacing

Community invited to check out mining trade show in Trail

Trade show free and open public on Wednesday and Thursday in the Trail Memorial Centre

Columbia Basin Trust announces grant for technology upgrades

The deadline for organizations to apply is Dec. 17

Christmas blooms in downtown Trail

The Artisan Craft Co-op recently celebrated its 30th anniversary in downtown Trail

Police aim to prevent retaliation after Hells Angel found dead under B.C. bridge

IHIT confirms Chad Wilson, 43, was the victim of a ‘targeted’ homicide

Canucks’ 50/50 jackpot expected to surpass $1 million

The guaranteed prize for one lucky winner will be $500,000 minimum when Vancouver hosts LA Nov 27

The latest advent calendar trend: Holiday cannabis

A Canadian company is giving people from coast to coast a new way to celebrate the Christmas countdown.

B.C. woman allegedly threatens to rip out intestines of American man

A Kamloops-area woman is accused of harassing and threatening to disembowel an American man

B.C. model looks a lot like expanded taxi industry, ride-hailing group says

Ridesharing Now for BC says it had hoped the bill would be more customer-driven like in other cities

Otter makes a snack out of koi fish in Vancouver Chinese garden

Staff say the otter has eaten at least five fish

731,000 Canadians going into debt to buy prescription drugs: UBC

Millennials and those without private coverage were more likely to borrow money

Pot users, investors need to be vigilant at Canada-U.S. border

U.S. authorities say anyone who admits to having used pot before it became legal could be barred

Shirtless stranger loomed over couch and started stabbing, bloody B.C. murder trial hears

Colin John pleads not guilty as trial opens in 2016 Chemainus murder case

Most Read