With a significant number of boys and young men engaging in offensive actions, using restorative justice is the most effective approach to mitigating such occurrences.

Most importantly, it becomes necessary to open up a conversation between the offender, the offended, and the support stakeholders.  

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Restorative Justice is respect for all, even those who are different from us; even those who seem to be our enemies. Respect reminds us of our interconnectedness, but also of our differences. If we pursue justice as respect, we will do justice restoratively.

Howard Zehr

Zehr Institute for Restorative Justice

What is Restorative Justice?

Restorative justice is a corrective approach, whereby the victims of harm and the orchestrators of the offensive actions communicate on a common forum. The idea, in this case, is to let the offenders realize their mistakes while allowing the offended parties to express how the occurrences affected them.

Creating an open communication forum through restorative justice allows the parties involved to initiate their healing and restorative process. The offender, in this case, takes responsibility for their actions and works towards avoiding harmful behaviors in the future. On the other hand, the offended acknowledges the underlying problem resulting from the harmful actions, hence allowing them to positively undertake their healing and reconciliation journey.

What are the Benefits of Restorative Justice?

The restorative justice approach is multifaceted in terms of benefits. The approach has proven to be effective in ensuring that boys and young men (either offenders or victims of crime) have been restored and that a conducive and peaceful environment is established for a healthy coexistence.

Here are the core benefits of restorative justice to young offenders and victims of adverse occurrences in the society:

restorative justice approach
Restorative justice takes into considering the safety and wellbeing of individuals involved in a conflict - Photo: Arek Socha (Pixabay)

1. Helps in Making Peace with Each Other

The main achievement made through restorative justice is to make peace with each other. The approach grants individuals the opportunity to open up with each other and reconcile. While the process may be critical for the involved parties, the eventualities yield peaceful coexistence between offenders and the offended.

First, the offenders get the opportunity to acknowledge their mistakes and take responsibility. Secondly, the offenders get the chance to apologize and reconcile with the offended parties. Most importantly, the reconciliation and support team offers the offenders an opportunity to make things right and evade instances that can make them re-offend.

The healing and restoration process is easily actualized when the parties involved are at peace with each other. Restorative justice capitalizes on creating a healthy conversation that supports peace and reconciliation.

2. Mitigates Post-Traumatic Stress

The likelihood of suffering from trauma and depression is high among victims of crime. Some victims may exhibit mild or severe symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Different crime victims have varying reactions which generally portray fear of the incident reoccurring.

Through a strategic and professional restorative justice approach, victims of crime are challenged to face their fears as they embark on the healing journey. An offender’s assurance that they will not commit the crime again works effectively in reducing the victims’ anxiety, fear, and trauma. Moreover, a restorative session is reconciliatory in nature, hence an opportunity to grant victims of crime the power and strength to resume normalcy.

3. Enhances Self-Confidence

Lifesong Kenya Restorative Justice Program
Restorative justice equips young people with the confidence and courage they need to thrive in the society - Photo: Lifesong Kenya

Having realized their mistakes and the harm caused to the victims, offenders are likely to be consumed in guilt. In some cases, offenders may isolate themselves while others lack the confidence to face the world. On the other hand, victims of crime end up in intense fear and anxiety, which is detrimental to their mental health and self-confidence.

Restorative justice seeks a professional approach to engaging offenders and victims of crime while eliminating guilt and anxiety. In essence, the offenders and the victims gain the courage to face the world normally, having successfully engaged in a reconciliation process. Therefore, it becomes possible for the aforementioned individuals to conduct normal life with confidence and peace of mind.

When I was joining Lifesong Kenya's REAM Program, I didn’t know how to operate a computer or design business cards. I also did not know that my complainant would withdraw the charges against me and that I would be free to go home. Lastly, the program helped change my character and the way I look at friendship. Thank you Lifesong Kenya for changing my life and helping me to see my full potential!


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4. Reduced Recidivism and Crime Rates

Crime is one of the main issues affecting society today. To reduce crime rates, experts recommend approaches such as restorative justice. Studies indicate that restorative justice reduces the chances of re-offending by 14%.

The open communication between offenders and victims of crime enables individuals to realize the detrimental effects that their actions have on society. Further, the offenders get the chance to face the consequences of their actions as they engage with the victims.

5. Empowered Youth

Among the major causes of crime in the society is the lack of empowerment and growth opportunities for the youth. To address the aforementioned issues, youth empowerment is deemed necessary. A strategic approach to building an empowered youth population is through restorative justice.

Notably, restorative justice creates an open room where individuals can interact, reconcile, and reform. Through this process, it is possible for individuals to shift their mindset and focus on constructive activities instead of crime. Empowered boys and young men are likely to follow the right ways of life which is one of the core goals of restorative justice.

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Lifesong for Mothers provides seed capital for mothers to start small businesses so they can generate income for their families - Photo: Pixabay

Restorative justice evades a punitive approach to correcting wrongdoers. The foundational role of the restorative justice approach is to encourage offenders and victims of crime to reconcile and make peace with each other. With reformed boys and young men, a conducive environment is created, which is not only beneficial at the individual level but also to the society.


Why We Are the Right Companion in Restorative Justice

Lifesong Kenya has for a long time held onto the belief that every person can be restored or made better. We acknowledge that the crime rate in Kenya remains significantly high. As a collective responsibility, we have joined hands with the society to ensure that the restorative justice system is applied to effectively transform offenders.

Equally, Lifesong Kenya sympathizes with the offended parties, hence offering a healing and restoration opportunity for all. Our mission is inspired by Luke 15: 11-32, which captures the story of the prodigal son. The prodigal son’s willingness to reform and the father’s gesture of forgiveness exhibits how granting equal opportunities to offenders and victims can be transformational and restorative.

With the robust team of professionals in our facility, we have always been committed to ensuring boys and young men follow the right growth channel, and that they refrain from detrimental activities that cause harm to the society. We also ensure that victims of crime are professionally guided to restoration and that their mental health is enhanced. Most importantly, we believe in empowering the boys and young men in Kenya, by encouraging them to engage in constructive activities.

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