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April 23 2019

Policy Focus: Unintended Consequences of Restorative Justice

by Inez Feltscher Stepman

Much ink is spilled on academic achievement in our education system. But more rudimentary even than what students learn is the fundamental promise to parents that when they send their children to school, their children will be safe.

Regrettably, for millions of American families, even this basic guarantee is violated. Polling shows that as many as one in three parents fears for their child’s safety at school.

In the aftermath of the tragic shooting in Parkland, Florida, that claimed 17 lives, the nation descended into its usual debate over guns. But an important underlying factor in Parkland went mostly unexamined: how was the shooter, who had brought weapons to school and made threats on multiple occasions—criminal acts—able to keep a clean record with which to pass a background check to buy guns in the rst place?

Few parents in America may have heard the phrase “restorative justice,” but this new fad in school discipline is sweeping through districts, replacing more traditional practices like suspension, expulsion, and referral to law enforcement with a focus on “talking through” serious infractions and even criminal acts on campus.

Restorative justice is a well-intentioned experiment, and it may sound compassionate, but early results have given parents serious reason to doubt its effectiveness and safety. Only empowering parents with educational freedom will restore their ability to decide whether their children will be the subjects of experimental discipline projects, sometimes jeopardizing their safety.

 

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Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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