Peer Resolution (PR) is a process through which children who have admitted guilt for minor offences or harm caused to others are sanctioned by their peers to make amends for what they have done. In the process, court-like procedures are used to allow children who have been trained to hold their peers accountable.
When a child (or “Respondent”) commits an offence, he or she can attend a hearing where he or she is questioned by other children who are called “Peers Assessors”. The child and his or her parent(s)/guardian or person with responsibility for the child must agree to go to PR. These Peer Assessors then give appropriate “sanctions” or activities that the Respondent must complete to make up for what he or she has done wrong. Sanctions include community service, behavioural programmes, education workshops, counselling, apology, curfew, restitution, and doing good work for others. PR does not decide if a child is guilty or innocent. It uses restorative justice concepts where the primary goal is to encourage the child to take responsibility for his or her actions and repair the harm caused. In so doing, the child also repairs any relationships which may have been affected by the wrong that he or she committed.
Under the Juvenile Court Project (JCP), PR is being piloted into two ways; School-based PR and Court-annexed PR.
At present, the School-based PR is being piloted in 4 participating schools in Tobago with the support of the Tobago House of Assembly. In this pilot, when a student breaks a school rule that falls within the prescribed list of School-based PR offences, he or she may volunteer to have his or her matter heard in PR where he or she is sanctioned by his or her peers. Forty-eight students from Tobago have been trained in PR and will serve as volunteers in various PR roles.
Court-annexed PR is being piloted in Trinidad and Tobago. In this pilot, a Judge or Master of the Children Court can refer a child to Court-annexed PR. The child and his or her parent(s)/guardian or person with responsibility for the child must agree to PR.
so far, 118 children and 46 adults will be trained to serve in various Court-annexed PR volunteer roles. Please keep following the progress of the JCP to learn about the opportunities for becoming a PR volunteer. Follow the JCP social media pages, join our mailing list or contact our office.
There are several benefits to the implementation of a Peer Resolution programme. The programme: