Merging Trauma-Informed Care with Restorative Practices in Schools: Insights from Martina Jordan

Martina Jordan, with her impressive tenure in the youth justice system of London and Northern Ireland, brought forth an enlightening perspective on the synergy between trauma-informed care and restorative practices in education. Through her presentation, she illuminated the potential of integrating compassion, empathy, and understanding within schools to address the challenges many young individuals face.

Drawing from her vast experience as a youth conference coordinator, Jordan recounted her times facilitating restorative meetings between youthful offenders and their victims, especially those involved in serious violent offenses. Her dedication towards mediation between harmed individuals and those causing the harm was evident in her recollections of hundreds of such meetings. Yet, a notable frustration she expressed was observing numerous children being sidetracked from mainstream education due to offenses committed within school bounds.

Such observations led her to believe that the adoption of restorative practices (RP) in schools could prevent many from acquiring criminal records. Transitioning from youth justice in 2015, Jordan passionately ventured into advancing RP in schools across Northern Ireland. Her international ventures also included providing RP training in parts of Europe and South East Asia.

However, it was the core of her presentation that resonated most profoundly with attendees. In recent years, there has been a notable push towards making schools ‘Trauma Informed’, recognizing the increasing number of children who face or have faced neglect and abuse. These traumatic experiences often manifest as challenging behaviors, which unfortunately are often met with punitive measures. Jordan highlighted the futility of such measures, noting that they seldom bring about genuine change. Instead, they might further ostracize these children, amplifying their feelings of ‘difference’ and disconnection.

Martina Jordan’s thesis was clear: relying solely on punitive measures, especially with children whose trust in adults has already been severely compromised, is not just ineffective but counterproductive. Drawing from both her experiences in the youth justice system and in schools, she laid out a framework for a more trauma-informed, relational, and restorative approach to engaging with these children.

The heart of her argument revolved around the power of empathy and compassion. By establishing trust and forging genuine connections with students, educators can create a more accountable and enriching educational ambiance. Jordan further illustrated her points with real-life examples, emphasizing the transformative potential of understanding and meaningful relationships in mending breaches of trust.

In conclusion, Martina Jordan’s presentation was a clarion call for schools to shift from merely punitive measures to a more holistic, compassionate approach. By intertwining trauma-informed care with restorative practices, schools can create an environment where every child, regardless of their past or present challenges, feels seen, valued, and connected. Her emphasis on empathy, understanding, and genuine connection is not just a recipe for academic success but also for nurturing well-rounded, resilient individuals ready to face the world.