A year six boy had been putting other students down and using racist language on a continual basis. Other students reported that one female student was very distressed. When the female student was questioned she said he had been putting her down for over a year. The boy had been calling her names, putting her down and saying her mother was a slut.

In the past we would have called the parents and stood the student down as he had already been cautioned about putting students down. We decided to hold a restorative justice conference and phoned the parents of both students.

The conference was held two days later after we had time to prepare all the people involved. Present at the conference were: the mother of the girl, the girl’s grandfather, the female student, a friend of the girl who had heard the comments and was there to support her friend, the boy’s parents, the Deputy Principal and the Principal. The mother was shocked at what her daughter had been putting up with. The boy’s parents were very upset with the way their son had been behaving.

After the conference the mother of the girl said she had felt the conference had really helped her daughter and empowered her to speak out about what had been happening to her.  As a parent she felt she had been listened to and supported.

The boy said the conference had really made him think as he had had to face up to how his behaviour had affected others including his parents, the girl, other students and the girl’s mother.  He said with a detention you just do it then forget about it. The Deputy Principal continued to meet with the students once a week until the end of the year to monitor the situation. There have been no more incidents of this student putting girls down.