Peace on the Block

 

“God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.” Jesus, Matthew 5 (NLT)

“The revolving door of punishment— suspensions, expulsions, arrests—puts our children on the streets, and on the road to gangs and prison. This is the crisis of the school-to-prison pipeline.”Lynn Morton, Parent (Austin Neighborhood)

Restorative Justice Peacemaking

Contact

Lynn Morton
(312) 226-5141

In partnership with Lynn Morton of COFI, Church on the Block is hosting an after school peace circle to promote restorative justice among local teens. This resident-run approach seeks to equip the youth of the Austin Community with restorative justice tools and practices that can help youth deal with various conflicts that they face day-to-day.

What is a restorative justice peace circle?

Peace circles give students a space to voice their perspectives and be heard and help keep students safe and in school.

Instead of the rigid and arbitrary rules of “zero tolerance” there is a philosophy of restorative justice. God is a God of second chances and many more.

Restorative justice emphasizes teaching the student who misbehaved and offering that student a chance to “repair the harm” that he or she caused. We know from our own families that the chance to learn from mistakes—and fix the damage that has been done—is how we build trust and community. Restorative justice teaches children and students to understand the impact of their behavior and take responsibility.

“Restorative justice is about getting power back to a community… When people who caused harm have conversation with those who were harmed, it brings restoration and healing to the community.”Lynn Morton, Parent (Austin Neighborhood)

Restorative justice teaches children ways to handle conflict without violence. It’s a way to build better and safer communities right now—and to create hope and change in our neighborhoods. It might look different across communities, settings, or situations, but there are key ideas.

Key ideas of restorative justice

  • Bring together all involved, including the offender and, if appropriate, the victim.
  • Recognize that the student who committed the offense did harm to the school and community.
  • Offer the student a chance to “repair the harm” caused. For example, if a student vandalizes the bathroom wall, then he or she should clean it off and repaint. Or if a student stole money, he or she should repay the victim.
  • Find a way to welcome the student who did the harm back into the community—it does no one any good for the children to be out on the streets.
  • Balance the needs of the community, the victim and the offender by involving the community in figuring out how to repair the damage done.

About Lynn Morton

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Restorative Justice Coach and Parent Peer Trainer

Lynn’s love for God and people has carried over into her professional life. Lynn facilitates Parent Leadership Development Workshops in the Chicago Public School System and coordinates an after school program called The Austin Peace Center. The Austin Peace Center is a parent and community resident-run center established to equip the youth of the Austin Community with restorative justice tools and practices that can help them to deal with various conflicts that they face day-to-day. The Austin Peace Center works to promote community and nonviolent conflict resolution. After serving five years as Co-Chair of the citywide parent organization POWER-PAC (Parents Organized to Win Educate and Renew Policy Action Council), Lynn has been granted the position of Co-Chair Emeritus.