Steve Brady en Restorative Justice, beBee in English, English Team Member - Blogger (Pro bono) • Restorative Justice for All (RJ4ALL) 20/3/2017 · 2 min de lectura · 1,2K

"I 'became' that naughty boy"

"I 'became' that naughty boy"


“You little sh*ts.

I send my son to school expecting him to be safe and he has to put up with you two.”

I could feel the shame rise in my gut, then through my chest. I could hardly raise my head, though I did, just for a moment. In that instant, I saw his grief, anger and pain all mixed up together. He was looking directly at me.

I have never felt so ashamed.


My mate and I had thought it would be fun to make up excuses to walk past his son during woodworking class and “accidentally” shoulder-knock him.

What an idiot I am.

I’ve never even called his son by his real name. Nick and I had always called him ‘retard’.

I wanted to disappear. I have never felt so sorry for anything in my life. I’ve never been through anything like this either. The son was sitting next to his Dad.

The Dad who was now showing me the impact of my callous behaviour.

I could hardly lift my head and look at him.

As I write this and recall the intensity of emotions that I felt that day, it reminds me how powerful Restorative Justice can be.

This was a role play simulating reality.

Nick wasn't Nick. He was a colleague from the school we both worked at. The words were real though. And so were the emotions.

Back in the mid-2000s it was part of our introduction to this inclusive, relationship-based way of dealing with harmful behaviour. I was playing the part of one of two boys caught harassing a boy in our class who had a learning disability and walked with a slight limp. The man whose words and penetrating gaze that had elicited a storm of shame within me was a School Principal playing the role of this boy’s Dad.

The role play was teaching us a key Restorative Justice process: sitting on chairs in a circle, a trained Facilitator using a scripted process to guide those have offended or caused harm into facing up to wrongdoing, with the person(s) harmed sitting in the same circle, along with his/her/their support people. The process ensures that all those who have been affected by the wrongdoing have an opportunity to speak. The primary goal of this process is to create an agreement that both harmed and "harmer(s)" are satisfied with, andaccountability that harmful behaviour will cease, and wrongdoers "make things right" to the best of their ability. This process is more about the dynamic process of wrongdoers having to face those they have harmed and meaningful justice emerging from that, than proscribed punishments. 

What I’ll never forget about this experience of acting the part of a “naughty boy”, is that in my real life when I was at school, I was a “good boy” – socks pulled up, hair combed, handkerchief in my pocket – but the shame I felt in that role play was "head-droppingly" real.

I ‘became’ that naughty boy, and the process did what it was meant to do: never again would I treat that boy the way I had been doing – in fact I wanted to look out for him now. The shame I experienced wasn't was constructive.

Since that day I have facilitated many Restorative Justice processes that were real, not role plays. Injustice isn't just about breaking rules. Injustices harm people....real people. My experiences have shaped my awareness that one doesn't have to always inflict more pain to heal the pain of harmful injustices. 

This is one of a series of buzzes that I sincerely hope will raise awareness of Restorative Justice. I intend to write them in non-academic, narrative style, though I want to comment that there is abundant literature and abundant research that demonstrates its efficacy.

I also want to keep the buzzes as brief as I can, and, over the coming weeks and months, write about the values, methods, and science of this way of 'doing justice better’. I am delighted to write these buzzes under the auspices of a London/Athens based organisation called Restorative Justice for All (RJ4ALL). I live in Australia, and writing like this is one way that I can support their ethos, activities and goals. I have recently been made a Team Member - a Team Member "down-under"!

Here's a link if you wish to read more about the work of RJ4ALL:

Until next the next blog,

Steve Brady

This blog is also posted on

Image Credit: Jeremy Tan

Deb 🐝 Helfrich Deb🐝 Lange Ali Anani Sara Jacobovici Donna-Luisa Eversley Max🐝 J. Carter Harvey Lloyd 

Steve Brady 27/3/2017 · #16

#15 Thanks @Claire L 🐝 Cardwell. RJ interventions are like intimate "Truth and Reconciliation" meetings! The good news is that RJ is being implemented into many schools. I think though that RJ still has a way to go in ensuring high quality Facilitator training, coaching and care for them. Also, the literature I've read highlights that "Restorative" can mean different things to different people. Understanding and implementing this is a vital stage on the journey for all of us to 'do Justice better". Thanks for your comment 😊

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Claire L Cardwell 22/3/2017 · #15

Great concept @Steve Brady - of having an intimate 'truth and reconciliation meeting' all seated in a circle. Powerful stuff. Wish that they had this in schools.

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Max🐝 J. Carter 21/3/2017 · #14

#8 I can give it to you in writing from the top as it was told me in email.

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Harvey Lloyd 20/3/2017 · #13

#12 The environment must be offset by the strength of parenting. I grew up in a rural environment and had strong parents that prepared me for the world. I sense in our world today the environment has eclipsed the strength in parenting. Core values are assumed and suggested that education enhances them. I see parents everyday that struggle with this notion of core values in their children were inherited. Part of our generational issues are the fact that we are not handing down these core values.

Where these core values exist i would suggest that the RJ system would work quite well. Where they don't i would assume core values would need to be instilled first. But that is a debate that will rage for eternity.

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Steve Brady 20/3/2017 · #12

#11 Hi Harvey, I appreciate your interest in Restorative Justice (RJ) and my foray into the world of blogging or "buzzing". RJ is still emergent and developing, and your comments regarding environment are critical to understanding why people do the things they do. On occasions I have thought that if I was born in a city suburb where gangs and violence were an issue, instead of being born in a coastal city to middle class parents, I may have had a very different life. I could be typing my reply to you while sitting in my jail cell. Thank you for being willing to be tagged in future buzzes. I certainly appreciate your perspectives.

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Harvey Lloyd 20/3/2017 · #11

Thanks for the tag @Steve Brady. This sounds like a worthy effort and the first i have heard of such a project. I do believe that many actions happen and folks don't realize the ripple effect they cause through their community or to others.

Most of my studies inside the cognitive behavior of others and myself have lead me to believe that the environment is the root cause of such incidents whereby others are hurt. Clearly we are all born with specific bents towards life and others. But the environment has such a great influence on our behavior.

I do believe that RJ has its place in our judiciary system. But there is a ground swell of environmentally lead personas that giving people the "right" to harm others because of different views, appearances and professions. This is one of the group think spin off symptoms.

I look forward to reading about RJ in your upcoming posts. Please continue to tag me. I find any new approaches to deterring social anxiety welcome.

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Steve Brady 20/3/2017 · #10

#1 Hi Deb. Thanks for your reply....and your your last sentence was music for my eyes! To raise awareness of Restorative Justice, or any form of justice that brings healing accountability, hears and cares for those harmed, and ultimately helps us all to build a more humane society, is my primary goal. I also want to share the passion I have for this type of reform. My personal view, and that of RJ4ALL is that we don't seek to be abolitionist regarding conventional justice administration. There will always be those that for whatever reason need to be incarcerated for the safety of the community. However, I also believe that even the most damaged of us can be healed, at least to some degree. The evidence is stacked against the efficacy of retributive, or punitive justice, but reform in schools, organisations, and our courts still has a journey ahead of it.

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Steve Brady 20/3/2017 · #9

#2 Thanks for your encouragement, Deb. I'm enjoying my initial forays into the art and science of producing buzzes/blogs. I agree wholeheartedly with your comments regarding reconnecting with our senses. I'm a classic case of my childhood and teenage years somehow turning me into a head being carried around on a body! I'm under "reconstruction" now..

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