2003 National Crime Victims' Rights Week Banner

Twenty Tips for Community Awareness and Public Education

1. Community leaders — including leadership from the county board of supervisors and mayors' office; local legislators; city and county law enforcement; prosecution; judiciary; and community and institutional corrections — can be provided with a nicely-designed form (via e-mail, fax, or mail) that states, "What I Can Do to 'Fulfill the Promise' to Victims of Crime." Their responses can be collected and utilized in speeches and public presentations, and/or displayed at public awareness events during NCVRW and throughout the year.

2. Victim assistance programs can distribute a nicely-designed form to victims and survivors whom they have served that states: "Victims' Rights: Fulfill the Promise": One Thing People in (Community) Can Do Fulfill the Promise of Support and Services to Victims of Crime." These powerful "voices of victims" — either anonymous or signed — can be utilized in speeches and public presentations, and/or displayed at public awareness events on brightly colored paper during NCVRW and throughout the year.

3. Victim assistance programs can engage schools (grades 3-12) in an essay/definition contest that asks: "What Does a Promise Mean to Me?" Programs can seek donated prizes from local businesses and retail stores. The students' responses can be displayed during NCVRW, and incorporated into speeches and other public presentations to emphasize the importance of the word "promise" to our youth.

4. "Fulfilling the promise to victims" can be incorporated into a staff activity that asks each staff member to write down one "promise" he or she can fulfill in the future to better serve victims of crime, and place it in a nicely decorated box. The cumulative "promises" can be typed up in a large font and included on a staff bulletin board display during NCVRW and throughout the year.

5. States or counties can convene a roundtable session of victims/survivors, victim service providers, criminal and juvenile justice and allied professionals, and volunteers to examine existing victims' rights in their state, and develop recommendations to "fulfill the promise" of victims' rights through the introduction of new laws and agency policies, or revision of existing laws and agency policies. The group's findings can be published in agency newsletters, or incorporated into an NCVRW collaborative press release or opinion/editorial column.

6. States can utilize the information and format of the enclosed "Crime Victims' Rights in America: A Historical Overview" to develop their own state-specific victims' rights history, which highlights key accomplishments that "fulfill the promise" to crime victims.

7. The Violence Intervention Program (VIP) of Oneonta, New York plans to sponsor a "Tails on Trails" 3K walk for dogs and their owners in a local state park. The proceeds raised from participant registration fees will go toward finding shelters for the pets of domestic violence and sexual assault victims when they leave their homes and go to the VIP shelter. VIP says the goals of this effort are to reach a key sector of the community — pet owners and their families — and to raise awareness that victims don't have to leave their pets behind when they seek shelter from abuse.

8. In Lewiston-Clarkston, Idaho, a highly successful billboard was erected that included a photograph of representatives of all law enforcement agencies in the area. The text says: "If you abuse, you will answer to us." This project promoted collaboration with law enforcement agencies, and sent a strong public message about the consequences of criminal activity.

9. The Vermont Center for Victim Services held a statewide remembrance ceremony for crime victims, and planted a memorial sugar maple (the state tree) in honor of all crime victims on the green in St. Albans, Vermont. Participants in the ceremony — including many victims and survivors — also received individual saplings to take home and plant for their own remembrance. The maple tree was donated by a local nursery, and saplings were ordered at inexpensive rates through the agriculture conservation district. Support for and remembrance of victims of crime will continue to "grow" in Vermont as a result of this special project.

10. The Nebraska Department of Correctional Services sponsors an innovative coloring contest for its employees' children, with the contest resource package mailed directly to employees' homes. Prizes for winning submissions are donated by local retail and department stores. This project helps educate correctional employees about NCVRW and the Department's victim assistance program, and sends a message that victim services are available to them, should they ever be needed. This creative idea can be adapted for law enforcement and other justice agencies.

11. In Ohio, a "moment of silence" is observed throughout the entire prison system and parole offices in remembrance of crime victims. This simple, inexpensive yet powerful effort can be expanded to include all state agencies and/or county and local level agencies.

12. Members of the Survivors of Crime Council in Vermont wrote a description of their experiences as victims of crime, including their experiences with the criminal and juvenile justice systems — some anonymous, and some signed by the authors. These were printed on different brightly covered pieces of paper, and placed on the seats of legislators when they attended the opening day of the legislative session. Vermont stresses the simplicity, cost-effectiveness and high impact of this project, and suggests that a note be attached to each "victim vignette" stating: "Help us 'fulfill the promise' to crime victims during 2003 NCVRW and throughout the year."

13. In Cuyahoga County, Ohio, a "Women Watch Vigil" in downtown's Public Square includes family members of homicide victims, victims of sexual assault and family violence, and community leaders speaking out on behalf of victims of crime. "Silent witness" statues are held by participants and, at the end of the vigil, the crowd begins a silent walk through several blocks of downtown Cleveland. The participants enter the Justice Center and place the Silent Witnesses in the main atrium of the building around several display tables with information about state and local resources for victims. The day is closed with a reflection and lighting of a candle; the display remains in the atrium for two weeks.

14. A contest for program staff and volunteers can be sponsored to develop the most creative and visually powerful desk decorations and design that incorporate the "Victims' Rights: Fulfill the Promise" theme of 2003 NCVRW. Provide a box of supplies (that can be purchased at reasonable prices at most floral/craft and "dollar stores"). Then seek permission to transfer the winning desk designs/decorations to desks or counters athighly visible locations, such as law enforcement agencies or the reception areas of courts, probation agencies, or jails and prisons, during 2003 NCVRW.

15. Utilize the sample "Certificate of Appreciation" included in this Resource Guide to honor volunteers during NCVRW at a volunteer luncheon or banquet (April is also National Volunteer Recognition Month) . Send a press release that highlights what each volunteer has done to "fulfill the promise" to victims of crime in your community.

16. Think of creative ways to involve juvenile offenders in community service initiatives to support 2003 NCVRW. For example, in Denver in 1999, juvenile offenders completed community service hours to put up NCVRW public awareness posters across the city and, at the same time, fulfilled their accountability agreements and learned the importance of publicizing the rights and needs of crime victims. In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, youthful offenders prepared beautiful "dream catchers" that were given to homicide family survivors at the annual candlelight vigil, in keeping with the 1999 theme "Dare to Dream"; this creative approach can be utilized with this year's theme, "Victims' Rights: Fulfill the Promise," as well.

17. Engage community service projects that publicize NCVRW by arranging for juvenile and adult offenders with community service obligations to cut 8-inch swatches of blue (PMS 2757) and orange (PMS 138) ribbons. Make copies of the "ribbon card" included in the camera-ready artwork in this Resource Guide, so the double ribbons can be pinned to the card (using two-inch stickpins that can be purchased at most floral/crafts stores). Then, widely distribute the ribbons prior to and during NCVRW, engaging local businesses and public venues to hang the theme poster (also mailed in conjunction with this Guide) and place a basket of ribbon cards in a prominent display area.

18. Create a visual display of the 2003 NCVRW theme posters and three victim issue-specific posters, and include brochures, fact sheets, statistical overviews (19 are included in this Guide) for distribution to crime victims and concerned citizens.

19. Encourage allied justice professionals to create their own NCVRW "mini-Resource Guides" that are specific to their staff, utilizing the materials included in this Resource Guide. For example, the Directors of the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections and the California Youth Authority send out selected resource materials — including the theme posters, statistical overviews, media materials, and toll-free telephone numbers for information and referrals — to agency work sites, with a cover memorandum that includes suggestions on how to utilize them for NCVRW commemorative activities, as well as suggestions for how to utilize these resources throughout the year.

20. Create resource packages utilizing the camera-ready artwork included in this Guide — such as buttons, bookmarks, theme ribbon cards, statistical overviews, toll-free victim assistance telephone numbers, web site roster, and theme posters — for distribution to all criminal and juvenile justice, victim assistance, and allied professional and volunteer agencies three weeks prior to NCVRW. Include a "calendar of events" that will be sponsored to commemorate 2003 NCVRW, and ask these agencies to join you as co-sponsors and/or participants, and to make copies of NCVRW resources for distribution to their staff and clients.

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National Crime Victims' Rights Week: Fulfill the Promise April 6-12, 2003
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