By: Miguel Martinez-Valle
Lansing Starr Staff Writer
High-profile incidents such as the shooting of Sexton High School students almost two months ago raise the question of whether Lansing’s public high schools are safe.
One school that focuses on prevention is Eastern High School as the only one of the three Lansing public high schools that has partnered with the Resolution Services Center to implement a restorative justice approach
The center is a non-profit agency that has been working with schools in Ingham County for more than 20 years. The group’s goal is to address student conflicts and create a plan of action to help prevent them in the future. They achieve this through mediation following the idea of the BARJ triangle, which states that public safety is enhanced when young people are held accountable and given the competency to problem solve.
Brandy Jones, Assistant Case Manager for the Resolution Services Center and Restorative Justice facilitator explained, “The goal is to figure out how we can move forward, how we can address the harm done and make an agreement everyone is happy with.”
Jones states that the program is both reactive and proactive, saying, “It works both ways because by identifying the issue and providing skill development for the students, they are able to apply it moving forward and they are able to use those problem solving skills to prevent future incidents.”
The Restorative Justice Program in Lansing is located in Eastern High School but serves the whole Lansing School District. However Sexton high school itself does not have an on-site facilitator.
“For schools that we are not actually provisioned with, if it’s a serious [incident], it would be referred to us from student services.” Said Jones.
Lansing Pastor Melvin T. Jones from the Union Missionary Baptist Church said something needs to be done to reduce youth violence.
Pastor Jones said, “Some of these kids think to survive in the best way they know how in terms of the subculture among those communities which invites bad social behavior.”
He said that violence among teens has no clear answer. “I would tend to think that counseling in the area of problem solving could be helpful, my opinion is that a lot of this comes from a real lack of resources for these kids.”
When asked about implementing restorative justice in all schools, Jones said, “Conflict resolution is certainly a step in right direction.”