PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Many schools today that are searching for solutions to problems other than suspensions, zero tolerance and punishments have turned to the Institute for Restorative Practices’ talk-it-out approach, creating a leadership model that fosters dialogue among students.

Ongoing communication is critical. Parties make a circle, present their sides and work toward resolving issues and restoring relationships, repairing harm rather than punishing the offender. With collective responsibility, students develop and enforce the rules.

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All professional and school support staff are trained. Students are taught to problem solve, to lower tension stressing cooperation instead of hostility. In Newtown, PA, over a three year period, detentions dropped 82% and suspensions are down 59%. When West Philadelphia High School tried the approach dealing with many misbehaviors, suspensions dropped 50%.

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Starting and ending the day in a circle using Restorative Practices works, giving more time to teaching and learning. Data on its website, www.iirp.org give support for this proactive, cost-effective approach to civility based on communication and responsibility.

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Reported By Dr. Marciene Mattleman, KYW Newsradio