Alison Ketchie writes about the possible use of restorative justice, also known as restorative practice, as a model for safety, violence prevention, and mediation in our schools. “Restorative justice is needed, yet we are producing student resource officers.”

As a recent high school graduate I am at a loss for words after reading an online article titled “Students Need Emotional and Community Support, Not Cops” by Eleanor J. Bader.  

Minority students such as students with disabilities and LGBTQ+ students are disproportionately negatively affected by having student resource officers (SROs) in schools, yet I have never heard of this problem.   

My question to you is, why?  

Why is this problem so significant, yet underrepresented in the media? Why has our local newspaper not spoken about this issue?  

Restorative justice is needed, yet we are producing student resource officers. SROs are a relatively new initiative in schools yet have not proven to be effective, so why are we funding them? Funding for social workers, counselors and psychologists is needed now more than ever in schools. Let me remind you of the young child, age 6, who shot his teacher after a disagreement in class. This young boy was known to have emotional issues due to a disability but these issues were left mostly unresolved.   

If these schools had access to counselors and social workers, what would have happened?  Not only Richneck Elementary, but also Sandy Hook, Columbine and countless others.

Restorative justice is shown to be effective in all different levels of schools, from elementary to college. Keeping students engaged and happy reduces the violence levels in schools, so why aren’t we doing this? Introducing calming practices such as meditation and wellness rooms into classrooms and schools has directly impacted students and their mental health in areas where these methods have been implemented.   

These methods of intervention and others, such as crisis circles, equip students to be able to successfully connect with other resources and communities. So why have they not been implemented in Rowan County?  

Alison Ketchie