In September 2014 a face to face restorative justice conference took place at Bristol Youth Offending Team. The young person involved was the subject of a Referral Order for two offences of criminal damage. The victim of the offences was the young person’s mother.
The facilitators of the meeting were trained volunteer restorative justice practitioners who are also experienced Referral Order panel members. Both the young person and the victim were supported at the meeting with their chosen support workers. The young person in this particular case has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) alongside other learning difficulties. Thus, it was felt necessary that the young person’s YOT worker who has known the family for eighteen months was also present to provide additional support in the event of any difficulties.
The panel members were fully briefed regarding this case and it was decided that the young person would be able to take a break when needed. It was agreed that plain and simple language would be used and continual checking to ensure that everything was understood. Furthermore, the young person was provided a small soft bouncing ball in order to keep him focused and his hands occupied.
These offences occurred as a result of the victim informing her son that he was not allowed to have his friends in her home on the day in question. During the conference the victim was able to explain to the young person (her son) how his behavior affected her and her younger son. She explained that she felt threatened and upset. Furthermore, she expressed that she felt that he did not treat her or their home with any respect. She stated that she did not want her son’s friends in her home all the time because she felt like she had no privacy.
Throughout the meeting the young person engaged and listened to what his mother was saying. It came to light that the young person did not realize that his behaviour upset his mother because he stated that she did not cry. It was at this point that the facilitators were able to explain to the young person that when a person is upset that they might not cry, but display other emotions. The young person took responsibility for his behaviour and stated that what he did was wrong and not nice.
A plan was put in place in which the young person agreed to keep his room tidy and only have his friends in the family home at weekends. This meeting allowed the victim to have a ‘voice’ within a safe environment.
Finally, I would like to point out that the conference lasted for over one hour and this no doubt was a difficult task for the young person considering his learning needs. However, the young person engaged throughout this process without breaks, which suggests that this process was carefully prepared and managed, whilst not forgetting the aid of a small soft bouncing ball!