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Success Story 5: Hearing Everyone’s Voices

John was a secondary 3 normal technical student who was diagnosed with mild autism when he was in primary school. One day, before his PE lesson, John went to change into his PE attire. A few of his classmates were in the toilet with him. Ahmad the class chief-indian, tripped and pushed John into one of the cubicles. He pulled down his pants and turned on the showers on him. All his classmates laughed at him. John reported the incident to his form teacher, Mr Tan. Mr Tan called John’s parents and informed his parents of the incident. After the incident, John was afraid to attend school on his own. His sister and brother had to pick him up to and from school. John’s parents were disappointed and angered by the incident. They wanted to make a police report. The school counsellor sought for our help.

A Restorative Practice Conference Circle, adopting the ‘no-blame approach’ was conducted in John’s school, involving John’s parents, sister, teachers, Ahmad and his mother. Three of John’s classmates were also invited to be supporting participants for both Ahmad and John.

The circle was facilitated by two counsellors from LCCS. Participants were prepared and consent was received prior to the conference. Restorative practice questions were used during the session. As John had special needs, the co-facilitator simplified and rephrased questions to help him understand them better. More time and patience was needed to garner responses for all the questions. John successfully expressed his thoughts and responded to all of the questions.

During the circle, Ahmad took responsibility for his actions and apologized to John and his family. He shared that he gained insight into how his actions has affected various people especially John, during the circle conference. John’s parents gained greater awareness of what transpired in the incident and were glad that they were given the opportunity to voice out their concerns. At the end of the circle, John shared that he felt safer to attend school after hearing Ahmad’s apology. Ahmad promised John’s father that he would take care of John in school henceforth and ensure he is not bullied again.