In the real world, we all have a voice and can exercise our voice to bring about changes that align with our values. One way students can amplify their voice is by creating a committee that handles disputes and crimes between students. Ideally, the committee, referred to as the Judicial Committee (JC) in democratic schools, would be made up of students and staff. They would work together to investigate and address complaints.

The way most schools handle complaints is through teachers and administrators. This process often invites too much bias into the system of justice and because the authority is organized at the top, the people at the bottom seldom feel engaged in the process.

The JC addresses many of the factors that lead to teasing, bullying, and harassment in schools like: lack of supervision, low self-esteem, permissiveness, and even previous victims. However, the JC is also positioned to help monitor absenteeism, littering, loitering, and treatment by teachers.

The Judiciary Committee is built on several key principles:

  • All children can learn kindness and respect by observing and experiencing it from the adults who care for them.
  • Everyone participates in the Judiciary Committee.
  • The Judiciary Committee meets daily to address complaints or suits against staff or students.
  • Behavior is everyone’s responsibility.

What are the rules in your school that aren’t being followed? Could you and your classmates start a judicial committee to start to address these issues?

Look at how Sudbury Valley School describes their JC!

Philip Mott

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