Artwork Reveals Inner Life and Lessons Learned by Youth



Crafting meaningful restitution agreements in Victim-Offender Restitution (VORS) mediations is a collaborative process combining input from the harmed party and the referred youth, with guidance from CYS mediators. In an atmosphere of mutual understanding fostered by restorative justice mediation, restitution ideas from the harmed party often encourage a youth’s character-building interests, whether educational, athletic, or artistic.

In a recent case, 16-year-old Oscar G. (not his real name) was apprehended for shoplifting from a department store. Oscar was referred to CYS by a local law enforcement agency, and offered the chance to mediate with and make a meaningful restitution to the store’s representative. During the mediation, it came out that Oscar spends much of his spare time creating visual and written artwork. When asked if a letter of apology might be welcome, the store representative said that, rather than an essay or letter, she would like to see something that tapped directly into Oscar’s expressive interests. Oscar gratefully accepted the assignment and, as part of a restitution agreement that included 20 hours of community service to his church, he produced a heartfelt drawing and a thoughtful rap lyric to convey the lessons he’d learned in mediation. Oscar’s drawing can be seen above. His lyrics are reproduced here:

Tj Maxx's Apology/lesson learned rap

Started off my day waiting to get paid Went to TJ Max, stole behind their back Realized I was wrong, arrested for too long, then I was told I’d have to put it in a song Learning my lesson got in this program it’s a blessin’ Heres my confession regret I did it, should’ve listened I learned not to steal because things can get real The impact it has is way too much to deal If it’s not yours, didn’t pay, leave it alone Don’t act up next time think and be grown I’m sorry for stealin’, was avoiding all the billin I won’t do it again because i’m not a villain

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