Restorative Justice and the Arts
We have recently started using the Arts to explore Restorative Justice. Restorative Justice is used within the criminal justice system. It brings together the victim and the offender and uses a series of question which gives the victim a voice and allows the offender to think about the consequences of their actions.
Learn more here: http://www.gbgmagazine.co.uk/giving-victims-a-voice-5335/
Here in Guernsey RJ is used in the prison but also in schools and community groups. Once RJ is being used in a community setting it becomes a little less clear as there is not necessarily a clear victim and offender. However RJ can be used to teach and develop emotional literacy and responsibility for one’s actions; it is a preventative tool which can help reduce crime and conflict.
Emotional literacy is the ability to recognise, understand and appropriately express our emotions. Emotions influence our thoughts, actions, affect our bodies and impact on our relationships. By learning how to understand and express one’s own emotions it then allows one to think about how others feel and how their actions may make someone else feel.
We have been exploring emotional literacy in our Artsmobile Outreach sessions by looking at what different emotions may look like. What colour represents happiness or sadness? What marks could express joy?
Over the summer holidays we worked with the National Autistic Society and created movable faces which showed different emotions. These faces can be used as a tool for understanding and learning about what different facial expressions can mean but also as a way for the child to express how they are feeling without having to verbally communicate it.
Last week we went to the Youth Commission’s playscheme and Company Chameleon performed their piece ‘Push’. Watch the piece here http://www.companychameleon.com/productions/push/
The powerful and engaging dance looks at the different stances we take as we relate to one another, and how at times we push to exert our dominance and control, and at others submit and yield. Using the Restorative Justice script, we asked the children, aged 6-11 years old what they thought happened in the dance and how the dancers were feeling. They were amazingly articulate and talked about the dance looking like a fight, like someone was being bullied but also how it seemed like they were friends and at times they were very gentle.
We then asked them how they felt when watching it, they said things like tense and excited. They then got into groups and we asked them to draw one of the emotions we had discussed. Would it be a picture or a pattern? What colour’s should they use? Will they do one part each or work altogether? The drawings they created were amazing! One group who drew overexcitement drew around one of the girls bodies and then filled her heart with fireworks, her head with popping popcorn, her mouth with lots and lots of words and her tummy with swirly squiggles. They used very expressive marks and bright colours. It was definitely a very excited drawing!! We are very excited about working more in this area and cannot wait to see what else will be created!