Adults take for granted the ability to resolve conflict, which is a skill perfected over a lifetime. Children, particularly those termed “at-risk,” haven’t had the necessary experiences or guidance for it, sometimes landing them in juvenile detention as a result. Missouri State Professor Dr. Charlene Berquist hopes to offer victims, offenders and other at-risk youths the opportunity to build the skills needed to pull themselves out of a justice system that may swallow them up.
Offenders rarely meet or speak to victims face-to-face; they are punished and put in the system with little to no rehabilitative support. Victims are left wondering why them and what kind of person would hurt another. Through its Restorative Justice programs, the CDR attempts to facilitate that closure and accountability between victims and offenders.
“Kids described that it was the first time they had really thought about a different way to react to someone doing something bad to them — not just lashing out at that person, but forgiving them or acting in a different way,” said Berquist.