Restorative justice as a disciplinary tool: Aperspective from Singapore

Wong (Julia), F.Y. 2014. Restorative justice as a disciplinary tool: Aperspective from Singapore. PhD thesis University of Westminster Faculty of Social Science and Humanities

TitleRestorative justice as a disciplinary tool: Aperspective from Singapore
TypePhD thesis
AuthorsWong (Julia), F.Y.

This thesis focuses on the use of Restorative Practices (RP) in two Singapore Secondary Schools. Relying mainly on the use of in-depths interviews with 149 students and 30 teachers, this study examines how the two schools’ contexts and cultural demands affect the definitions, adaptations and practices of RP.

The research shows that RP is predominantly used as a disciplinary tool in order to uphold existing social norms. Many teachers could articulate the non-negotiables that must be secured in all circumstances such as those of ‘non-domination’ and ‘respectful listening’. Teachers spoke of RP as primarily about building relationships and it is about doing things with (and not to) students. However we see instances of teachers’ domination over students when teachers dictated the type of answers students were to write down on their RP forms. The relationship between corporal punishment and RP is also examined. While many teachers believed that ‘pure RP’ should not co-exist with caning, they still preferred the status quo and argued that RP should be taken as a complementary framework alongside existing corrective practices and punishment, rather than as a replacement to the existing disciplinary framework. Through an analysis of a case conference, we see how caning is retained in part because it is taken to be the utmost symbol of hard treatment that is required to express condemnation in cases of major offences.

Finally, the specific context of the school is important in analysing participants’ ability to engage in RP processes such as class conferences or circles. The class is not a homogenous community that is resolving issues collectively but consists of a group of individuals who belong to a class that is attempting to resolve things but the very coming together as a class to resolve and discuss issues creates difficulty for things to get done because of the group dynamics involved.

YearDec 2014
Publication dates
CompletedDec 2014

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