The Restorative Justice League of Le Grand High School jumps in to save the day

Restorative justice works!

ACEs Too High

A teen starts a fistfight with a fellow student. Another brings alcohol to school. Another urinates on a fellow student’s locker, and a fight ensues.

Three years ago at Le Grand High School, in Le Grand, CA, these students would have been immediately expelled or suspended. This year, they weren’t. They didn’t miss any classes. They made amends. They learned from their mistakes.

In 2010-2011, Principal Javier Martinez suspended 49 students and expelled six. Last year, he suspended 15 and expelled only one.

This school year, with the help of the Restorative Justice League, he’s going for double zeros.

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Le Grand High School is tucked on the edge of a town so tiny it has not one traffic light. Orchards and fields

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Monthly Peace Challenge: I Have a Dream

This speech can never be heard too many times– perpetually relevant.

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Peace is spreading.Last month’s peace challenge had more participants than any other peace challenge this year! (So many people posted for peace that I have not gotten to all the posts yet. Sorry, I’m a bit behind due to back to back conferences.) We are also adding new bloggers for peace everyday thanks to the Daily Post Blog Events listing. I can feel the momentum of peace shifting. Let’s keep the ball rolling.

To help inspire the Bloggers for Peace (B4Peace), we will have a Monthly Peace Challenge. To participate, tag your post with B4Peace and make sure you copy your URL to the Linkz collection. Anyone who completes all twelve Monthly Peace Challenges will receive a Free B4Peace T-shirt.

It has been a little over 50 years since Martin Luther King gave his famous speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. One of my favorite parts…

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Domestic Violence and Animal Abuse- Ken Shapiro

The Animals and Society Institute is a great organization for many reasons– one of which is their focus on providing specialized treatment for those convicted of animal abuse (their AniCare Program). Another is their long-standing focus on the interrelationships among different forms of violence.

Domestic Violence Awareness Month has just come to an end, but I wanted to share Dr. Shapiro’s latest blog post about the connections between animal abuse and domestic violence. Here is the link, and the text is below:

Paramedics initially responded to a recent report of a woman being bitten by a dog at an apartment in a dilapidated building in Queens, New York. Once there, the emergency responders witnessed a 29-year-old man physically assaulting his 28-year-old female partner. Police found evidence of animal cruelty and danger to four children, ages 7-11.

According to news reports, the children were placed in temporary custody in the city’s Administration for Children Services. The City Animal Care and Control removed and are caring for five dogs, 10 puppies, two boa constrictors and a lizard from the home.

Neighbors stated that they had called the police on several occasions to report that the couple was fighting but that the police had not responded. The landlord reported that the tenants owed him several thousand dollars for past rent and damages to the apartment.

As we near the end of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we return to a topic with which readers of the ASI Diary are familiar – the relationships between human violence and animal abuse. The above account of a recent incident illustrates several points worth noting.

Domestic violence and animal abuse typically occur in a dysfunctional family system. That system is complex, interweaving many factors and conditions: legal, cultural, economic, familial, intrapersonal and constitutional.

The relationships between human violence and animal abuse often are patterned in the form of a vicious cycle. Animal abuse is frequently used as a controlling device in dysfunctional domestic relationships. Abused animals are more likely to be aggressive toward humans. Children who are abused are more likely to abuse animals. Children who witness animal abuse or domestic violence are more likely to themselves to abuse animals and to bully classmates and future human partners. They are also prone to anxiety symptoms similar to those seen in post-traumatic stress disorder. 

These several intra- and extra-generational and -species relationships and others in the literature help explain the intransigence of violence and the necessity of dealing with it on various levels: educational, legal and psychotherapeutic, among others.

One other interesting point in the present incident is particularly telling for the issue of domestic violence. According to several newspaper accounts of the New York incident, the authorities failed to respond to earlier reports of domestic violence but did respond to the “dog bites woman” call for help. Apparently, despite considerable progress in the past few decades in recognizing domestic violence as a serious public health and legal issue, aggressive animals are considered a greater threat than aggressive humans. This is a disservice to the victims of domestic violence and a bad rap for the animals.

– Ken Shapiro

Such important food for thought– and for action!

Ontario’s Farm Animal Sanctuaries

Well, it’s been a while since my last post… Life (and my dissertation!) got in the way, but I’d like to get back to it. I’ve been researching Ontario’s farm animal sanctuaries lately– mainly because I would like to start one myself in the near future.

One that I have actually visited is called the Donkey Sanctuary of Canada, near Guelph: http://www.thedonkeysanctuary.ca/ 

They do wonderful work for animals that are often forgotten about. They also offer humane education programs for children and school classes– a wonderful idea of a field trip! Educational programs like the Donkey Sanctuary’s are key ways in which children will learn about suffering and compassion, cruelty and love.

Another important part of their mission is advocacy, as is the case with many animal sanctuaries. In their “Animals and the Law” section, they offer a nice breakdown of the problems with Canada’s current criminal code, under which animal cruelty is prosecuted:

Canadian animal welfare organizations, on behalf of the country’s citizens, have been calling on the federal government to amend animal cruelty sections of the Criminal Code of Canada for more than 25 years. Bill after bill has been introduced in Parliament, but the Section remains unchanged, save for a limited modification in 2008 to the penalties for animal cruelty. In spite of this lack of substantive action on the part of Parliament, 76% of Canadians continue to support changing the law so that animal cruelty crimes are no longer treated as property crimes. It is important than animals be protected because they can suffer and not just because someone owns them. Increasing the penalties was note enough; parliamentarians must finish the job of bringing animal cruelty laws out of the 19th Century.

Well, this is the first of a few great sanctuaries I’d like to profile. Stay tuned for more!

Zoe Weil answers the question, “What is humane education?”

These definitions are taken from a recent blog post of Weil’s. For the complete post, go here: http://zoeweil.com/2013/06/06/what-is-humane-education-8-answers/

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1. Humane education is based on the premise that if we address the root system underlying all other systems—schooling—we can transform unjust and unsustainable systems wherever they occur and solve the challenges we face in the world.

2. Humane education is a field of study that explores the connections between all forms of oppression and exploitation—whether to people, animals, or the environment—and seeks to inspire solutions that are healthy for all.

3. Humane education helps students put core values of kindness, empathy, generosity, respect, responsibility, and integrity into practice in a complex, globalized world in which our daily choices affect people, animals, and ecosystems across the planet.

4. Humane education cultivates critical and creative thinking and problem-solving so that complicated issues are perceived in all their complexity, and answers to persistent challenges are addressed holistically.

5. As Matt Hummel, a student in our graduate program, said, “Humane education answers the questions nobody is asking.”

6. Humane education turns students into solutionaries who are knowledgeable and empowered to ensure that the systems within their future professions are just, sustainable, and compassionate.

7. Humane education is itself humane: engaging, inspiring, exciting, meaningful, and relevant to students’ lives and futures.

8. Humane education is the best hope for a healthy and peaceful world.

“Allow pets in domestic violence shelters”- editorial

A great editorial piece in the The Register Citizen (Connecticut):

http://www.registercitizen.com/articles/2013/06/04/opinion/doc51ae66b26ac7c036148252.txt

Why do victims of domestic violence stay in an abusive situation? According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, as many as 40 percent say that it’s in part due to “fear of what would happen if they left their pets behind.” It is common for an abuser to threaten to hurt or kill a beloved animal.

We know how strong the emotional bond between people and their pets can be. It is so strong that in far too many instances, women and men are putting themselves and their children at risk of physical and emotional abuse because of it.

Most pet owners look at the animal as a family member, so leaving that pet behind would be much like abandonment to them. Leaving them to the care of a person who has already acted out violently toward humans.

Across the country, a simple solution is in the works. Domestic violence shelters are beginning to accept pets.

“As we witnessed during Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy, pets are members of the family and no one should have to make the impossible decision to leave them behind during times of crisis,” said Nathaniel Fields, president of the Urban Resource Institute, which recently created 10 pet-friendly apartments in a Brooklyn domestic abuse shelter.

There are similar shelters in 25 states, but surprisingly, this is the first and only one in New York City, and the Humane Society of the United States lists none in Connecticut.

It costs money to open up separate living spaces that can accommodate animals, but government and charitable dollars directed at domestic violence prevention would be well-spent on addressing this problem.

In a culture where, according to the American Pet Products Association, more than $55 billion will be spent on pet care and products this year, there should be an opportunity for the charities that run domestic violence shelters to raise funds to help the pets of these victims.

Add to that, pets can help in the healing process, as medical professionals increasingly look to pet therapy to lessen the effects of depression. Victims of abuse clearly have much emotional healing to deal with. Having their beloved four-legged family members at their side can obviously help that process.