Fostering Restorative Environments for Youth: Insights from Claire de Mezerville López

In a profound presentation, Claire de Mezerville López laid bare the intricacies and challenges she faced while working at the intersection of education and restorative justice in Costa Rica. As someone deeply rooted in both academia and the justice system, her insights offered a valuable perspective on how institutional disconnection often hampers the creation of nurturing, restorative environments for the nation’s youth.

López, a distinguished psychologist hailing from Universidad de Costa Rica and with further academic laurels from ITESM and IIRP Graduate School, shared her multifaceted experience. From lecturing future high school educators, training public education teachers in restorative practices, to researching the juvenile justice system for the Ministry of Peace and Justice, her diverse roles painted a vivid picture of the systemic disconnections.

Her presentation highlighted a pervasive issue – a familiar disconnection between multiple stakeholders. This disjointedness, seen as “normal”, is a significant barrier preventing many well-intentioned efforts from culminating in holistic support for the youth. Given the complexities and nuances involved, the importance of integrating these diverse platforms becomes even more critical.

However, López’s discourse wasn’t solely about the challenges. It was a vibrant tapestry of possibilities and hope. Drawing upon Costa Rica’s rich experience with its national restorative justice program, she emphasized how restorative practices could bridge the existing gaps. By facilitating dialogue and understanding between communities and institutions, these practices can be a game-changer.

One of the most compelling aspects of her talk was the emphasis on intergenerational relations. Through strengthening ties between different age groups, a more inclusive and enriched dialogue can be fostered. This can pave the way for shared leadership, where decision-making and responsibilities are distributed, ensuring that the voices of the youth are not just heard but also acted upon.

López also spoke passionately about the need for weaving networks intentionally. By creating synergistic networks, the cumulative efforts in youth work can be streamlined, ensuring a comprehensive approach to the myriad challenges they face.

Her resume speaks volumes of her commitment. Claire de Mezerville López has been an active advocate of restorative practices, especially in Costa Rica. With her association with IIRP since 2011, she has taken on various roles, including being a crucial liaison for Spanish-speaking communities across Latin America.

Based in Costa Rica, López has orchestrated numerous professional development initiatives, collaborating with key government entities such as the Justice System, Ministry of Education, and Social Welfare Institute. These endeavors, complemented by her continuous cooperation with agencies like the National Psychologist Association and Peace Corps Costa Rica, ensure that the tenets of restorative practices find firm ground across various strata of society.

By the close of her presentation, Claire de Mezerville López had not just highlighted the challenges but had also illuminated the path forward. Her dedication and vision offer hope that, with concerted efforts and the right approach, a more restorative, inclusive environment for the youth of Costa Rica is within grasp.