In 2018, we co-launched “On Our Terms: Students, Parents, and Educators Take Back the Conversation About School Safety and Accountability.” In this Participatory Action Research (PAR) project, students and educators are the principal researchers articulating their definitions of conflict, violence, resolution, repair, and justice in schools.
In March 2022, we released the On Our Terms website and action toolkit, showcasing a vision for community-led restorative justice, collective safety, and healing in schools.
CPAR is based on the belief that we are all experts on our own lives and we should have a say in guiding the research and policy that directly impacts us. This is what restorative justice can look like when it’s On Our Terms.
PHASE 1: PROJECT PLANNING Our PARticipants want to make a meaningful place at the “policy table” for students, teachers, and families while providing educators, advocates, and policymakers with tools for rethinking our school safety goals, who is included, and how we get there.
PHASE 2: SUMMER INSTITUTE Over the six days of our institute, we drafted, revised, and tested over 200 interview questions about restorative/transformative justice, safety, accountability, discipline, and intersectionality. Our 30+ researchers unpacked the history of criminalization in schools and the legacies of communities rising up against it. Mainly young people, along with educators, and parents also engaged with guest speakers who do Restorative Justice work in prisons and shelters for women fleeing intimate partner violence.
PHASE 3: RESEARCH DESIGN & PREP We finalized research questions and focus group questions, trained on facilitation, research ethics, and data analysis.
PHASE 4: FOCUS GROUPS Researchers talked to students, teachers, parents about safety, accountability, and restorative justice.
PHASE 5: MAKING SENSE OF IT Researchers analyzed focus group responses to identify important trends, established recommendations.
PHASE 6: GETTING IT OUT THERE The website is live, including new tools, reports, recordings, and more. Findings are available for multiple audiences about what we learned, why it matters, and what action to take.