Restorative practices, which evolved from restorative justice, is a new field of study that has the potential to positively influence human behavior 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 positions of authority do things with them, rather than to them or for them.
The IIRP 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. The 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.
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 organizations' constituents and help the overall organization function more effectively. For example, in schools, the use of restorative practices has been shown to reliably reduce misbehavior, 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.
The International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP) is a world leader in restorative practices, providing professional development and accredited master's degree and certificate programs. At the IIRP's model programs for at-risk and delinquent youth, the use of restorative practices has been shown to significantly reduce offending rates and improve youth attitudes. To learn more about successful programs emerging throughout the world, from single schools to whole community implementation models, visit the Restorative Works learning network.