Unlike the Juvenile Justice System, Restorative Justice works to empower rather than combat. Restorative Justice practices take the time to first listen and then react with a thoughtful approach to the present circumstances. These practices give all parties a voice– something that many girls report a lack of in their schools, home, and community, especially at a young age.
Mediation Case Manager, Malia Lemonious Dinkins, reports that when looking into a case involving a girl, safety, or a lack-thereof, is often the root cause. A common example of this: a girl feels unsafe on her walk home and packs pepper spray or a knife in her bag. Said pepper spray or knife is then used in inappropriate circumstances due to the girls lack-of experience handling something of that nature. Malia further reports that in CYS mediation, we empower girls through knowledge and skills. CYS will work with girls to identify alternatives to feeling safe, information on appropriate versus inappropriate self-defense, and an emphasis on the importance of always speaking to a trusted adult.
One route CYS takes to establish open communication between adults and children is through the work we do in schools. Pat Parker, CYS's Lead for Schools and Community Partnerships, works with school staff to change their practices in order to improve their responses to youth needs. In turn, these changes also build more trust between staff and students.
With the right tools and support, girls can achieve anything.