The decision regarding which students are disciplined, and how they are disciplined has much to do with the relationships between students and school staff members. The use of training programs and professional development for school staff members that focus on building strong positive relationships with students have been found to reduce a teacher's reliance on exclusionary discipline with all of their students. However, the effects of stronger student-teacher relationships are most pronounced for black students who tend to be subjugated to a disproportionate amount of punitive discipline. Relationship building can therefore be considered as a preventive approach to discipline because it relies on student-staff relationships as not only a way to prevent conflict from occurring in the first place, but also the locus where conflict is solved. That is to say, the focus is placed on restoring the relationship rather than punishing the student. The Restorative Justice approach also places heavy emphasis on cultivating, and maintaining relationships. Therefore one may think about the relationship building approach as foundational to the Restorative Justice approach but it should not be mistaken for Restorative Justice in and of itself.
The relationship approach depends on strong student-staff relationships to prevent and manage conflict