What Forgiveness Means to Students

We tell small children that it is okay to make mistakes. We are told to forgive and forget. But our country doesn’t hold to these adages for those convicted of a crime. The revolving door of incarceration and juvenile justice has ensnared many of my students. It’s a hamster wheel that proves very hard to get off of. Poverty, crime, and violence are inextricably linked in the worlds of my students. In the county-wide consortium high school program where I currently teach, the students are all considered 100% at-risk in a multitude of categories – high-poverty, homeless, court-involved, frequently absent, working moms at 17, pregnant, expelled, etc. To address our students’ intense needs, our high school uses intentional strategies rooted in improving social-emotional learning to provide a better foundation for student success. We use trust, relationships, and character-building to provide stability and support for these students who have suffered trauma and often turn to crime to cope or survive.

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