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July 18, 2010
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August 4, 2010

Ladders are awarded to St Thomas’s of Canterbury boys’ school for a highly effective Restorative Justice programme and to The Press for publicising its success.

This programme has reduced 60 stand-downs, 18 suspensions and 2 exclusions in 2003 to just one stand-down last year.

Reporting on this, The Christchurch Press (26 July, 2010) noted how in 2006 St Thomas of Canterbury College “replaced its pastoral care behaviour management system with a restorative justice programme.” According to its principal Christine O’Brien, “the results were dramatic.”

In an editorial Remarkable Result the next day, The Press commended the school’s devotion of resources to this, which would be “undoubtedly more than would be spent on the process leading to expulsion.”

The Press news report describes one example of “an older boy who at a restorative justice meeting told of having been beaten by his father all his life and of turning to violence himself after the father had left the family.”

The awareness, which the school might not otherwise have had, of factors that went some way towards explaining why the student was behaving as he did enabled a constructive intervention that led him away from the possibility of a joining a gang and into tertiary education instead.

Schools can be very hard pressed these days to deal with difficult pupil behaviour, and where they cannot cope, increasingly anti-social behaviour patterns can become very costly in human and financial terms. Where these patterns lead to incarceration, the financial cost itself is now “just over $90,000 per year” according to the New Zealand Treasury. Treasury adds that “building prisons is currently projected to cost about $915 million over the next decade. Running those prisons once they are built will have an ongoing cost of up to another $150 million a year.”

Resources applied to restorative justice like the one at St Thomas’s are monies well spent.

We wonder how if resources were applied to creating well-connected villages throughout the country, a lot more help, and more innovative solutions might become available to help reverse these increasing strains on national resources and institutions.

Your comments and Ladder and Shovel Awards most welcome

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