The idea of that certain behavioral practices are evidence-based began in the field of medicine (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evidence-based_practice).

Behavioral health practice (here abbreviated behavioral practice) is a multidisciplinary field that promotes optimal mental and physical health by maximizing biopsychosocial functioning. Evidence-based behavioral practice entails making decisions about how to promote healthful behaviors by integrating the best available evidence with practitioner expertise and other resources, and with the characteristics, state, needs, values and preferences of those who will be affected. This is done in a manner that is compatible with the environmental and organizational context. Evidence is comprised of research findings derived from the systematic collection of data through observation and experiment and the formulation of questions and testing of hypotheses” (emphases in the original) (http://www.ebbp.org/ebbp.html).

Restorative practices to deal with crime and wrongdoing are recognized as evidence-based practices according to extensive research (Sherman & Strang, 2007 http://www.smith-institute.org.uk/file/RestorativeJusticeTheEvidenceFullreport.pdf).

There is support now too that restorative justice is evidence-based for school discipline.

The Council of State Governments issued a report in 2014 and recommends restorative practices for school discipline and states that it is evidence based along with other interventions including Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support (PBIS). p. 14 (http://csgjusticecenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/The_School_Discipline_Consensus_Report.pdf)

Additionally, a 2012 report from the US Attorney General’s office (http://www.justice.gov/defendingchildhood/cev-rpt-full.pdf) states that restorative practices are especially helpful for children and youth who engage in and are harmed by bullying:

“Providing trauma-informed services and support to children who are bullies as well as to those who are victims of bullying is an essential step in stopping the spread of emotional and physical violence toward children in our schools and communities. . . . These programs embody the principles of restorative justice, which can instill individual and community-level accountability and positive action to support healing and resilience as well as demonstrate the potential value of meaningful restitution” (p. 153 – 154).

The US Attorney’s report further suggests restorative practices are evidence-based:

“Evidence-based, trauma-informed suicide prevention programs and trauma-specific treatments for children and youth who are at high risk due to severe suicidality should be adapted for children and communities of varied backgrounds and made accessible immediately to every child and family in every community in our country. These programs provide education, counseling, support from caring adults, healthy opportunities for restorative contacts with peers, and help from a network of multiple providers and agencies working as a coalition to protect children exposed to violence who are struggling with suicidality” (p. 154).

A draw back with requiring that all practices be evidence-based before they can be implemented is that it can stifle creativity. New theories will not have been tested yet because they are based on original new ideas. Pilots and demonstrations are necessary to develop effective evidence-based practices. While it makes sense to use evidence-based practices most of the time, especially for social services that are limited severely for funding and resources, there should always be room to develop new practices that are not yet evidence-based.