A Restorative Justice program that helps to divert youth from the Canadian Criminal Justice System

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The Restorative Youth Circles (RYC) program is developed by Peacebuilders International, a Canadian organization dedicated to improving the lives of youth that are at risk for incarceration, promoting a restorative justice approach (in contrast to the conventional criminal justice approach) to empower them to overcome personal challenges, make better choices, and succeed.

Program participants begin the program with “Leaders of Tomorrow”, a weekly, after-school discussion group guided by a trained facilitator, where youth learn to share issues they face with others in the same boat, with a focus on honesty and respect. Subsequently, youth move into individualized “Restorative Youth Circles”, during which youth and their families are invited to reflect on circumstances that provoked the problem behaviors, and develop action plans for dealing with their difficult life challenges, with the support of caring peers, adults and professionals. The plan is then captured in a report and submitted to the court.

The program builds on the power of Peacebuilding Circles which focus on taking responsibility, learning positive values, making amends, and moving forward. Since its inception in 2006, over 500 youth have participated in the process, graduated and been successfully diverted from the justice system.