STUDENT ANTI-VIOLENCE PROGRAM (S.A.V.E.)
1. Briefly describe the structure of your program.
The S.A.V.E. (Student Anti-Violence Education) program is conducted by the Midwest City Police Department in cooperation with the Mid-Del Public Schools. The programís goal is to prevent young people from becoming involved with gangs, violence, alcohol or other drugs. It is ten weeks long, taught once each week, in the third and sixth grades in the local schools. S.A.V.E. begins with the police officer instructor handing out T-shirts, pencils and key chains with the S.A.V.E. logo on them. The officer, who portrays a positive role model, explains the program to the students and starts to build a relationship of trust and friendship. The officer comes to class in a police uniform during the first few weeks to show students that police officers are their friends and they can be trusted. Then, as the semester progresses, the officer begins dressing in civilian attire to show the students that he or she are no different than their parents or any other adult in the community whom they can trust.
The programís mission is to give students basic information and tools they need to make good decisions. The first lesson is about self-esteem. Here, the students learn that the opinion they have of themselves, although self initiated, can be effected by their interaction with others and by things which are said about them. Students are taught about their rights and the responsibilities which go along with the freedom to make choices. S.A.V.E. shows the students the consequences of their actions and ways to reduce violence. There are also several lessons on alcohol, drugs and the reality of gang involvement.
Each student writes an essay about the program, what they learned and why they think it is important to stay drug and gang free. This essay is a requirement for graduation from the program but is judged on the individual studentís ability. During the ten weeks the officer assesses each student for a variety of awards which are presented during the graduation ceremonies. The first award is for the Best S.A.V.E. Student Award. It is a medal worn around the neck and is presented based upon the studentís attitude, individual behavior, their participation in class and how they provided a positive influence to other students. There is also an award for the best essay in each class which is determined by content and presentation of the studentís paper.
2. When was the program created and why?
The S.A.V.E. program was created during the 1990-1991 school year to combat gang problems identified in our city, much like other communities throughout the country. This problem was more pronounced in the neighborhoods, schools and malls.
The Midwest City Police Department was, prior to that time, teaching D.A.R.E. (Drug Awareness and Resistance Education). However, D.A.R.E. was not confronting the identified issues of violence or gang activity which were perceived as the fundamental problem. S.A.V.E. was created by members of the Midwest City Police Department, to meet the communities needs, under a federal grant received from the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth. The program was implemented initially in two schools in Midwest City, but was quickly added to several other sites. S.A.V.E. has been a great success because of the noticeable change in the studentís positive attitude and the fact it can be tailored to a wide range of communityís needs or to a single school or classroom. In the 1996-97 school year there were approximately 2500 children who graduated from the program and there are 17 elementary schools with ties to Midwest City who are currently involved in the S.A.V.E. program.
3. How do you measure the programís effectiveness?
The effectiveness of S.A.V.E. is measured by surveys given at the end of the program to each student. The answers are based on the students true feelings about drugs, alcohol and gangs and then compared to the beliefs they had at the beginning of the program. The teachers are given evaluation forms, which remain anonymous, to fill out on the officers that instruct the program so that constructive feedback can be obtained. The S.A.V.E. program has received many compliments from the parents, school personnel and community representatives.
4. How is the program financed?
The S.A.V.E. program is financed as a budget item through the Midwest City Police Department and supplemented with donations received from local businesses. In addition to personnel related expenses, $13,000 dollars is budgeted for supplies each school year. With all the T-shirts, awards and pencils, etc., the money is spent fairly quickly, but through the generous help of local businesses, S.A.V.E. is effectively maintained. This partnership with the community provides students with basic items they need to enhance the learning atmosphere associated with the program. One example is an annual Donut Hole Eating contest, sponsored by Paradise Donut, which police officers, present and past students, parents and community members attend. They all compete for prizes and the entry monies and other donations are directed to the S. A. V. E. program.
5. How is the community involved in the program, if at all. How has the community responded to the program?
The community is involved with S.A.V.E. in many ways, especially P.T.A. (Parent Teacher Association) and the Citizens Police Academy Alumni. Parents provide refreshments at the class graduations. Heritage Park Mall has donated office space from which the officers work. Civic and professional groups many times request that police instructors come and present programs about SAVE and other crime prevention programs. News of the program has spread to other communities. We have had inquiries from as far away as North Dakota, asking for information and lesson plans on the program. There are also several agencies in Oklahoma that are starting the S.A.V.E. program using the original lesson plans and logo. The Police Department allows them to use the format with only one request. If modifications are made to the original program, the agency shall send our Department a copy for assessment since there is a possibility that those changes could better serve the needs in our community and schools also.
The positive results of the program are many. The students are taught that the police are their friends and are here to help with any type of problem they may encounter. Additionally, students are rewarded for completion and participation in the program. The community achieves a better line of communication between law enforcement and youth which cultivates a positive growth in the community.
The S.A.V.E. program was established to help control the rising gang population by educating the communityís children. Once a student has completed the program, that studentís ability to resist the temptation to become involved with gangs, drugs and alcohol will be greatly increased, thus reducing the number of children lost each year to these problems. The S.A.V.E. program teaches core values and eliminates the reservoir of youth from which the drug dealers and gang members draw.
6. Contact person:
The United States Conference of Mayors
J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
Copyright © 1999, US Conference of Mayors, All rights reserved.