Restorative Practices


These various fields employ different terms, all of which fall under the rubric of restorative practices:

In the criminal justice field the phrase used is “restorative justice”; in social work the term employed is “empowerment”; in education, talk is of “positive discipline” or “the responsive classroom”;and in organizational leadership “horizontal management” is referenced.

The social science of restorative practices recognizes all of these perspectives and incorporates them into its scope.


The use of restorative practices has the potential to:

  • reduce crime, violence and bullying

  • improve human behavior

  • strengthen civil society

  • provide effective leadership

  • restore relationships

  • repair harm

The notion of restorative practices evolved in part from the concept and practices of restorative justice.  But from the emergent point of view of restorative practices, restorative justice can be viewed as largely reactive, consisting of formal or informal responses to crime and other wrongdoing after it occurs.

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.

For example, in criminal justice, restorative circles and restorative conferences allow victims, offenders and their respective family members and friends to come together to explore how everyone has been affected by an offense and, when possible, to decide how to repair the harm and meet their own needs.

Restorative Practices

Restorative practices is a social science that studies how to improve and repair relationships between people and communities.


The purpose is to build healthy communities, increase social capital, decrease crime and antisocial behavior, repair harm and restore relationships. It ties together research in a variety of social science fields, including education, psychology, social work, criminology, sociology, organizational development and leadership.


The social science of restorative practices offers a common thread to tie together theory, research and practice in diverse fields such as education, counseling, criminal justice, social work and organizational management.


Individuals and organizations in many fields are developing models and methodology and
performing empirical research that share the same implicit premise, but are often unaware of the commonality of each other's efforts.