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.

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%.

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

Reported By Dr. Marciene Mattleman, KYW Newsradio