County: Grafton

Social and Family Issues contribute to behavior

A 10-year-old boy was sent to Restorative Justice along after teaming up with two peers to commit many acts of vandalism and larceny including: spraying graffiti under a bridge, marking an RV with a Sharpie pen, shoplifting energy drinks and candy from a local pharmacy, stealing chrome tire valve stems off cars, and stealing change from unlocked cars.  Given the age of the child, the police and elementary school asked Restorative Justice to accept these children who were younger than any they had worked with before.

During the process, several difficulties at home, at school, and in the community were identified. He was out on the street until late hours of the night, because he was afraid to go home to his single parent household with struggling family dynamics.  At school, he was having academic difficulties, was not doing his homework, and was fooling around in the classroom, showing off to his friends.  He was unsupervised and spending his time on the streets. (Community)

As part of his extensive Action Plan he: Arrived at school every day on time; participated in Little League, since he is enthusiastic about baseball and is good at it.  He couldn’t miss a game or practice, and program volunteers attended some of his games; attended an after-school homework program; was referred for a full psychological evaluation and counseling at a local provider; connected with a summer camp that provided male mentoring for boys; made restitution, including $1.98 to the pharmacy for stolen gum, and wrote a letter of apology.

Afterwards, he had bonded so well with the Restorative Justice Coordinator that he didn’t want to leave the Program.

Pet Therapy Success

A 12-year-old male was referred by the local elementary school for bringing a knife to school. This youth resided with his grandparents, because his father was incarcerated and abandonment by his mother at the age of 8. His Reparative Agreement included participation in a pilot program with “Pet Assisted Therapy” A college professor provided the assistance and support for the program. A staff member provided her golden retriever. This youth, when he entered the program, hung his head, refused to make eye contact, and participated in very limited conversation. As he worked closely with the dog, a smile developed as well as more dialogue. Staff and interns planned a small party for his 13th birthday—he was deeply touched having never had a birthday cake.  A high point of his program was attaining the honor roll for the first time after years of struggling academically.

Peer issues cause problems

A 14-year-old female entered the program on a shoplifting charge. This youth dealt with peer issues in her school and suffered some hearing difficulties and developmental delays. Part of her Reparative Agreement was to participate in a teen nutrition program, which would expose her to a new set of peers in a different community in a well supervised and positive environment. Upon completion of the program, she shared, “I can’t believe that from something bad, something good happened.” She hugged the instructor after the last session of the program.

Community Service makes a difference for troubled teen

A 17-year-old male entered the program on a disorderly conduct charge for being drunk on Main Street in a local community. He had slammed a barbecue grill and when taken home by the local police department he punched a hole in the wall of his home. His parents wanted him arrested and jailed. He was being home schooled unsuccessfully. One of the goals in this youth’s Reparative Agreement was to improve his reputation in his community.  He completed 20 hours of community service at three different locations in that community. He successfully passed all of his pre-tests for a GED, something he had not previously attempted before entry in the Restorative Justice Program. He passed his GED exam this past spring. Through a Restorative Justice panel member he also secured full-time employment by a local businessman.

Overcoming Addiction Through Cooking

A 17-year-old male was referred to the program by his high school on a marijuana charge. He suffered with lack of self esteem and was diagnosed severe bi-polar disorder. One of the requirements in his Reparative Agreement was to build and showcase his culinary skills by planning, cooking, and serving a dinner for the Restorative Justice Advisory Council. He completed the menu, planning, purchasing, cooking and serving of the meal with the assistance of two college interns interns. He received accolades for his effort. This was a great boost to his self-esteem. He also formed a bond with the two interns. He asked them upon completion of the meal, “Will I see you again?”