Restorative practices, which evolved from restorative justice, is a new field of study that has the potential to positively influence human behaviour and strengthen civil society around the world.
The fundamental premise of restorative practices is that people are happier, more cooperative and productive, and more likely to make positive changes when those in authority do things with them, rather than to them or for them.
The field of restorative practices has significant implications for all aspects of society — from families, classrooms, schools and prisons to workplaces, associations, governments, even whole nations — because restorative practices can develop better relationships among these organisations’ constituents and help the overall organisation function more effectively. For example, in schools, the use of restorative practices has been shown to reliably reduce misbehaviour, bullying, violence and crime among students and improve the overall climate for learning. Everyone who finds themselves in positions of authority — from parents, teachers and police to administrators and government officials — can benefit from learning about restorative practices.
IIRP Europe distinguishes between the terms restorative practices and restorative justice. We view restorative justice practices as a subset of restorative practices. Restorative justice practices are reactive, consisting of formal or informal responses to crime and other wrongdoing after it occurs. IIRP’s definition of restorative practices also includes the use of informal and formal processes that precede wrongdoing, those that proactively build relationships and a sense of community to prevent conflict and wrongdoing.