OVC ArchiveOVC
This file is provided for reference purposes only. It was current when produced, but is no longer maintained and may now be outdated. Please select www.ovc.gov to access current information.
National Crime Victims' Rights Week: April 18-24, 2004 banner

Twenty Tips for Community Awareness and Public Education

The following twenty tips are designed to highlight this year’s theme, “Victims’ Rights: America’s Values.” Many of the concepts presented here have been successfully sponsored in past years by state and local victim service organizations and coalitions. Each of these ideas should be tailored to fit the specific needs of the sponsoring agency, coordinating committee or community.

1. Coordination is key to any National Crime Victims’ Rights Week initiative. In eastern Missouri, a Regional Planning Committee is formed each year, comprised of all victim-related organizations (both system- and community-based) and allied professionals who come together months in advance of April to coordinate each group’s individual activities, as well as to organize one or two collaborative commemorative events. The many materials in this Resource Guide can be utilized by your Planning Committee to coordinate and implement successful events.

2. Create a visual display of the 2004 National Crime Victims’ Rights Week theme posters and victim issue-specific posters, and include brochures, fact sheets, and statistical overviews for distribution to crime victims and concerned citizens. Many of these items are included in this Resource Guide and can be personalized with your agency or organization’s name and contact information. Place these displays in prominent areas such as the foyer of the court house or local government buildings.

3. Coalition and agency web sites offer excellent opportunities for victim and community outreach during National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, as well as throughout the year. A 2004 NCVRW website banner which can be installed on your coalition or agency website is provided on the CD included in this Resource Guide. A calender of events, photographs and video footage of prior NCVRW events, and listservs that keep Coordinating or Planning Committee members updated on key activities are but a few examples of how to utilize web sites for NCVRW.

4. Create resource packages utilizing the camera-ready artwork included in this Guide (both in hard copy and on the resource CD) — such as buttons, bookmarks, theme ribbon cards, statistical overviews, toll-free victim assistance telephone numbers, website roster and theme posters — for distribution to all criminal and juvenile justice, victim assistance and allied professional and volunteer agencies three weeks prior to National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. Include a “calendar of events” that will be sponsored to commemorate 2004 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.

5. Educate the public about victims’ rights and available services by organizing a “Value Days Victim Awareness Fair.” Hold the event in a local shopping mall. Invite state and local victim service agencies and organizations to set up booths to provide information about their services and crime victimization. Invite local law enforcement to display their vehicles, special units and crime prevention services. Ask local retailers in the shoppingmall to provide discount coupons that also will be available at the Awareness Fair booths so attendees learn about crime, victimization, why they should “value” victims and victim service providers, and get extra “values” for their shopping as well.

6. Ribbon campaigns are an easy way to enable a large number of people to show their support for victims’ rights and values. Engage community service projects that publicize National Crime Victims’ Rights Week by arranging for juvenile and adult offenders with community service obligations to cut eight-inch lengths of burnt sienna (PMS 471) and white ribbons. (To ensure being able to find the appropriate burnt sienna, which is an orange-brown color, ribbon for NCVRW, it is recommended that you go to craft stores as soon as possible while autumn and winter colors are still on display and not wait until the spring colors are put on display in early 2004.) Make copies of the “ribbon card” included in the camera-ready artwork (available both in hard copy and on the included CD) in this Resource Guide, so the double ribbons can be pinned to the card by the community service offenders (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.

7. Local victim assistance programs can sponsor an essay contest for elementary, middle, junior high, and/or high school students (grades 3 - 12) based on the theme for 2004 National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, “Victims’ Rights: America’s Values.” Ask students to submit essays that describe their view of how crime victims’ rights relate to America’s, and their own community’s, values. Create a panel of esteemed judges that include representatives from the criminal and juvenile justice systems, victim services, and community leaders. Programs can seek donated prizes from local businesses and community service organizations. The students’ essays can be displayed during NCVRW at the courthouse or in the foyer of local police departments. Sponsor an award ceremony during NCVRW that honors the winning submissions from each school-level group. The winners can also be invited to read their winning essays at the local community-wide commemoration ceremony during NCVRW, or the essays can be incorporated into other public presentations to emphasize what the theme “Victims’ Rights: America’s Values” means to our youth.

8. Local victim assistance programs can proclaim a “We Value Our Volunteers Day,” and plan ways to honor their victim assistance volunteers throughout the day, such as sponsoring a breakfast, brunch, or luncheon; handing out special certificates; or other special recognitions. (A sample “Certificate of Appreciation” is included in this Resource Guide.)

9. Sponsor a “Value Victims Volunteer Drive” in local middle, junior high and high schools. Work with participating schools to encourage children and teenagers to become active in their community. Hold presentations for classes in these participating schools. Tell kids about the different services provided by organizations in the community. Distribute educational materials. Encourage teenagers to volunteer their time with a local victim organization. This is an excellent tie-in for victim organizations within school districts that require high school students to complete a specified number of volunteer hours prior to graduation.

10. Many businesses are willing to contribute a portion of their profits to local non-profit organizations that serve the public interest. Work with a local business, such as a book store, pizza parlor or coffee shop, to hold a “Value Victims” fund-raising night during which the business will contribute a portion of their profits from that night to your organization or a local victim services non-profit. Encourage the community to patronize your sponsor’s business on fund-raising night by distributing flyers and contacting your local newspapers.

11. In advance of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, solicit a meeting with your local newspaper’s editorial board and/or other media to discuss how victims’ rights and services have made your community a safer and better place to live. Ask victims who have had a positive influence on public policy or community safety to accompany you. Provide editorial board members with the 2004 theme, along with supportive resources from this Resource Guide, and encourage them to write an editorial about the importance of victims’ rights and services, and the contributions they have made to your community.

12. Candlelight commemorations are one of the most popular and inspirational ways to honor victims of crime and those who serve them. Host your event at an easily accessible site to get the most exposure and participation, such as the front steps of the capitol building or town hall, in front of the courthouse, or in a city park or town square. Add something unique to your event, such as a special music presentation, poetry written and read by a victim survivor, a short dramatic presentation on “America’s values” or some other special addition to your event. Enlist volunteers from the community or the Planning Committee to help with details and to assist at the event in handing out, lighting, and collecting candles. As an alternative to a candlelight public event, try organizing a community-wide display of electronic candles in windows of private homes and businesses for the entire week of NCVRW. Work with local media to promote awareness of either event to increase the number of participants and to publicize victims’ rights and services throughout the commemoration period.

13. Organize a poetry reading for survivors of crime, their families, friends, advocates and supporters. Encourage participants to read their own poetry or a poem that they find especially meaningful. Sponsor this event in a local library and have on display the 2004 National Crime Victims’ Rights Week theme poster or some of the other posters and materials provided in this Resource Guide, as well as brochures and educational materials available for distribution.

14. Host an art exhibit to raise public awareness about victims’ rights. Invite victims of crime, survivors, or advocates to submit pieces that reflect their personal experiences. In Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the YWCA hosted an art exhibit for NCVRW. The exhibit was entitled “Take a Walk in My Shoes,” and it honored victims of crime and survivors of violence. The exhibit featured artwork by survivors of all ages and of all types of crime.

15. Dedicate a local bench, monument, or building to victims of crime. A Florida chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving dedicated a park bench and tree to victims of drunk driving. In Ware County, Georgia, families of homicide victims dedicated a white marble bench and stepping stones on the grounds of the county courthouse to crime victims.

16. A memorial garden can be a living memorial to crime victims. Establish or advocate for a memorial garden to homicide victims in your community. In Stark County, Ohio, victim advocates handed out seeds at a ceremony during National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. Advocates encouraged families and officials to plant flowers in memory of victims who had lost their lives. In Modesto, California, families, friends and supporters of victims gathered to dedicate Stanilus County’s Garden of Healing and Restoration to victims of crime. The garden features a coastal redwood tree dedicated to homicide victims, as well as other special plants and trees. When completed, the garden will also feature a waterfall and monument.

17. Consider initiatives that highlight victims’ rights across state or community borders. For example, in 1999, Parents of Murdered Children held a march and memorial service on the Chain of Rocks Bridge across the Mississippi River, linking Missouri and Illinois. The bridge was the site of a murder of two sisters several years ago. Proclamations from both Illinois and Missouri were read at this moving event.

18. 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.

19. Encourage allied justice professionals, such as law enforcement, corrections, probation and parole, medical and mental health agencies, to create their own National Crime Victims’ Rights Week “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. States can utilize the information and format of the enclosed “Crime Victims’ Rights in America: An Historical Overview” to develop their own state-specific victims’ rights history, which highlights key accomplishments that reflect their state’s values regarding crime victims.

Previous Contents Next

National Crime Victims' Rights Week: Victims' Rights: America's Values April 18–24, 2004
Archive iconThe information on this page is archived and provided for reference purposes only.