Lubbock ISD's "restorative circles" improve students' mental hea

Lubbock ISD's "restorative circles" improve students' mental health and prevent bullying

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

The Center for Disease Control reports bullying can lead to mental health problems like anxiety and depression. 

Over the past three years Lubbock ISD's implemented a way for students to learn healthy alternatives to face conflict and prevent the development of mental health issues.

Restorative practices are used to resolve conflict. Martha Dodge, the Social Emotional Leaning Coordinator for Lubbock ISD, said it starts with building relationships. 

"But really the point of those circles is for kids to get to know each other and for the teachers to get to know them so that they can build a strong classroom community," she said. 

She added these exercises can reduce the chances of someone being bullied. 

"When I see you as someone who is part of my community is it more challenging for me to bully you or to do things that are unkind to you," she said. 

Students sharing during restorative circles is a key component in developing social skills.

"Kids have told us before that they loves circles because they get to learn what they have in common with other people, they've made friends because of circles and things that were shared in there. And that they really enjoy having their teachers learn more about them and that helps build that trust with teachers," she said.

The second component of restorative practices involves holding students accountable for when they've done wrong and to make amends with their peers. 

"If you just get sent out of class or you get sent home you don't really have to face what you did and the harm that you caused," Dodge said. "So part of it is that they have to say what they did, what they we're thinking, what they've thought about since and how they plan to fix the damage that they have done through their words or their actions." 

Restorative practices are currently being used on 36 of Lubbock ISD's campuses. In support of National Bullying Prevention Month the district's also taking part in the Kindness Challenge. Students are given a new topic each day and practice choosing kindness. 

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