I loved that it truly was a child-led programme, which is not often the case.
Some might use such a phrase, but when it comes to applying it, it's rarely even the case.
We've got the chance to really express ourselves, and not just it: what we said was actually "the main course", I thought it was great that we actually had the chance to have our voices heard, unfiltered, which you don't see so often.
- Fotis, Child Advisory Board member, Greece
On 4th November, children and young people from the Child Advisory Boards, child justice experts and professionals gathered to discuss lessons learned during the project i-RESTORE: Better protecting child victims through restorative justice and reflect on how we can achieve a justice system that is fair and built with children, not just for them.
The event, whose recording is available online, marked the end of the first phase of i-RESTORE, and it was a chance to reflect on these two years and i-RESTORE achievements, but it kept a keen eye on future steps and vision.
Dr Tali Gal, Head of the School of Criminology of the University of Haifa (Israel) and author of books and articles such as the renowned "Child victims and restorative justice: A needs-rights model", presented the principles of using restorative justice with children, its challenges but also the enormous potential of tailor-made restorative justice practices to repair harm and empower children.
Dr Gal strongly advocated for a tailor-made approach for each child and for stronger participation of children in restorative justice processes in which they are involved.
"Consider children as our partners in the joint goal to reach the best restorative solution: we need their knowledge.
We have the tendency to protect child victims, we want to shield them from drama, but we shield them from being involved in restorative justice processes. Even if they feel that restorative justice is tough, eventually it's a good thing for them, when they are ready and willing to do it.
Child participation has been indeed a cornerstone of the i-RESTORE project, and children and young people from the Child Advisory Boards (CAB) in Albania, Greece and Romania were actively involved in the conference.
The audience was captivated by the impressive awareness and advocacy material that each CAB created to raise awareness among their peers about children's rights and advocate for restorative justice, child protection and child-centred justice.
Similarly, during the roundtable discussion, children and young people provided powerful insights, both on their experience with i-RESTORE and the CAB, and their opinions on restorative justice and child justice in general.
Children gave the voice to the animation presenting i-RESTORE results in the opening of the conference, and their video messages closed the event and the project, in line with the core of the i-RESTORE original idea:
"Everyone told us that working with child victims would have been difficult.
We wanted children to have a meaningful role to play.
We wanted children to feel more empowered, to be part of discussions and brainstorming with professionals.
We wanted to explore more what restorative justice really is, what it does, and how it can help child victims.
We wanted children to know that their voices matter us."
- Mariama Diallo, Programme Manager, Access to Justice, Terre des hommes
If you missed the conference, you can still watch the recording.
Co-founded by the Justice Programme of the European Union and implemented by Terre des hommes Europe, in partnership with Terre des hommes Greece, Terre des hommes Romania, the European Forum for Restorative Justice and Restorative Justice Nederland, i-RESTORE used an innovative approach to promote the use of restorative justice in cases involving child victims, by empowering children to advocate for better protection of child victims and raising awareness on child-friendly restorative justice both among professionals, decision-makers and young people.
It was made possible also thanks to the enthusiasm and hard work of our Child Advisory Board members: Anja, Denada, Ela, Albion, Bjorni, Eusebio, Monika, Kevin, Xhensila, Paola, Fotis, Trinity, Jesse, Baran. Fima , Ruxandra, Andrada, Sabina Maria, Alexandra-Maria, Ștefan, Nadejda Nadia, Andrei, Cristina-Veronica, Sabina-Anca, Magdalena, Andreea, Lavinia, Ana, Bogdan Petru, Sabina... THANK YOU!
Do you miss i-RESTORE already or find out about it too late? We've got you covered!
Even if the project is coming to a close (for now) i-RESTORE will keep offering opportunities for learning and reflection, thanks to the free e-learning course available on the Childhub Academy
To access the course and enrol, you simply need to sign in to Childhub. The course is free of charge, and you can study at your own pace and receive a Certificate at the end.
Besides the e-learning, you can know more about the application of restorative justice in cases involving child victims thanks to the i-RESTORE European Research and the related country papers for the three focus countries.
And if you want to have a look at past events, recordings of the previous advocacy event is still online: check the i-RESTORE page on Childhub.
Do you prefer live interactions? You are still on time to join the i-RESTORE training at the World Congress on Justice With Children, on 17 November at 18:00 (Block C, Workshop 1).
Although we still have a long path to reach child-centred justice based on restorative justice, the i-RESTORE journey has been rewarding, both for the i-RESTORE Child Advisory Boards members, the i-RESTORE adult team and all the people involved. We will keep working tirelessly together, for children, with children.