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The Impact of School Shootings and Embracing Restorative Culture

Perth is a fantastic place to grow up, to go to school and to live. It’s laid back and calm. We’re even teased that nothing happens in Perth!

With horror, the news feeds about gunfire at a northern suburbs school in Perth started filtering through yesterday. The disbelief was rife. How could this happen in Australia, let alone Western Australia, where the gun laws are some of the tightest worldwide? As information continued, a sense of relief took over, and then concern and worry came. Perth is a relatively small place, and the seven degrees of separation are more like only 4 or 5 degrees. I have family that lives in that suburb and also close by. I know former colleagues, teachers and principals of neighbouring schools. Real Schools has partnerships in the large northern suburbs area. Immediately you jump to, are these people okay? I know they are physically okay, but what about the social/emotional effect on these people? And. WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN?

A quick Google search told me this would be Australia’s seventh school shooting! What? How did I miss these? Two were at universities in Victoria, and three people died. The others, like this one, no one was hurt. Before this, the most recent was a high school in Adelaide in May 2012. This information came from a news article in The Educator from June 2022. It was titled “Could a Mass Shooting Happen in an Australian School?”. The author references a report from the Australian Institute of Criminology that compares America and Australia. A range of useful prevention and response suggestions are incorporated. I was surprised, shocked even, that there was no mention of relationship building and understanding of the development of restorative culture and the benefits.

A restorative culture enables voice. This allows students to learn and use words to describe and manage feelings when conflict occurs in schools. Like all good learnings, this happens in a calm time, not in the heat of the moment. School systems across Australia recognise the importance of building restorative communities by mandating restorative practices in schools. But what does this exactly mean? It’s so much more than relationship building and those questions. Restorative cultures reduce stress. They are supportive and focus on the good stuff. The people. This is what we do at Real Schools.

We shouldn’t expect that there will never be incidents such as these in our schools. But we should be grateful – so grateful – that the chances of that occurrence are so low here. And we should double that gratitude on the fact that our incredible schools respond so empathically and purposefully when crises occur.

Check out other articles Candice has written here.