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PO Box 4716, Los Alamos, NM 87547

What I Learned in Restorative Justice

Lessons Learned

by a Restorative Justice participant

In this essay, I will be talking about the importance of remembering how a car is not a toy to be played with. I had an eye-opening experience with my car that matured my relationship with cars. [Youth] in my age group tend to get carried away in the joys of driving a vehicle, forgetting that it can cause serious damage or injure someone badly. The control of a car is in our hands as the driver, so we must remember that we will be at fault if an accident occurs.

One day, my friends and I were driving to practice when I saw a kid walking in the school parking lot. My desire to gain approval from my friends got the best of me, and I swerved towards the kid as if I was going to hit him. I even went back around the parking lot and swerved my car towards him again.

I didn’t think of there being any consequences for my actions, so I simply drove off and thought the whole thing was funny. It wasn't until my mom received a call from the police a month later that the gravity of what I had done began to hit me. I had forgotten about the incident by this time, so the officer had to explain the situation to me. The officer who spoke with me was polite because he could see I was young man who has many life lessons to learn. However, my parents were very disappointed in me. I did not think about how much my actions scared not only the kid, but the kid’s parents as well.

This incident has changed my perspective on driving. Prior to this, I popped a tire in my car so my parents had no trust in my abilities to be a responsible driver after this. I had many months of freedom taken away – I was restricted with what I could do, where I could go, and who I could see. I also had to make amends - my family wanted to meet with the kid’s parents to apologize for such a scare. The kid mentioned that he felt bad for telling his parents about it and was scared that he would get bullied, but I assured him that it was the right thing to do and that no bullying would happen because what I did was wrong. The family was very sincere and took my apology. Luckily, I did not get any charges pressed against me.

Even though the family was very forgiving, I still learned a big lesson that day. It is a privilege to be able to drive a car, and one that should not be wasted with trying to act cool in front of friends. Someone's life may be at risk, and I don’t want to be the one to take anyone’s life away. I want to set a good example for younger kids rather than act like a bully.

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