Age Issues at Ashe

April 4th, 2013

The other day at Arther Ashe, my Rethink group was discussing the meeting we had had with their principal, Mrs. Demango, about bringing Restorative Justice to the school. Mrs. Demango seemed open to some of their suggestions, but was not completely convinced. She thought that the Restorative Justice system fails to hold kids fully accountable for their actions, especially during extreme instances of violence or disruption when punishment is simply “nonnegotiable.” The kids tried to explain to her that for the student to have to sit down and face the victim and his/her family can be very difficult and uncomfortable and can serve as punishment in and of itself, but rather a punishment that is intended to solve the problem rather than instill fear in the kid. While she listened to the arguments of the kids, she seemed more open to suggestions from adults in the circle (like Rachel and Troy from the Center of Restorative Approaches). Upon reflection, the kids expressed feeling a little powerless. Rachel explained to the kids that they were probably experiencing the effects of “agism” and that one of the things that Rethink aims to do is teach kids to not only to address issues of concern within the school, but also be able to articulate their thoughts in a meaningful and powerful way. Although the kids often have intelligent thoughts and and ideas, it is difficult to make people really listen and get adults to take them seriously. I have also struggled in getting adults to take me seriously as I go about filming the documentary for out project. After reaching out to numerous urban farm owners and non-profit food justice organizations, I find that at first, people are often skeptical because I am not a child, but I am also not an adult in that I have no real credibility and don’t have much to offer them in exchange for their time. It has been a challenge to get adults to participate in the film because they are very busy, sometimes unresponsive to emails, and a little apprehensive about appearing in a film created by Tulane students. This process has taught me to be articulate and confident about my goals, enthusiastic without seeming ingenuine, efficient but also patient, and respectful but also productive. It’s been harder than I had anticipated, but I am definitely learning and growing through this experience.

By Halle Lucas