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Public Education and Awareness Projects

OVC is committed to ensuring that victims' rights are recognized throughout the criminal and juvenile justice systems and that victims' voices are consistently heard throughout the Nation. As part of these efforts, OVC supports programs that generate greater awareness among victims, survivors, and communities about victims' rights and services. Through initiatives such as National Crime Victims' Rights Week, OVC is building capacity to promote victims' rights and services at the local level. Because these initiatives seek to expand awareness of and compliance with victims' rights, each supports the others in educating the Nation about victims' issues.

National Crime Victims' Rights Week

In 1981, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed the first Crime Victims' Rights Week, calling for "a renewed emphasis on, and an enhanced sensitivity to, the rights of victims." Each April since then, communities nationwide have held public rallies, candlelight observances, and commemorative activities to promote awareness of victims' rights and needs. OVC coordinates the annual commemoration of National Crime Victims' Rights Week (NCVRW) and uses the event to recognize individuals and organizations that demonstrate outstanding service in supporting victims and victim services. The next National Crime Victims' Rights Week is April 23–29, 2006.

OVC also helps communities organize activities and initiatives during the weeklong celebration by supporting the development and dissemination of the NCVRW Resource Guide—a collection of national statistics on crime and victimization, sample press releases, camera-ready artwork, sample speeches and proclamations, and a short introductory theme DVD for use at NCVRW events and throughout the year. Public Service Announcements for NCVRW.

Each year, OVC conducts an extensive nomination and review process to identify exemplary individuals and organizations to receive one of eight prestigious awards:

  • The National Crime Victim Service Award, the highest federal honor bestowed on outstanding advocates, many of whom are victims serving as role models and offering inspiration to others in the field.
  • The Crime Victims Fund Award, recognizing outstanding federal employees whose work exemplifies efforts to hold offenders accountable and contribute deposits in the Crime Victims Fund.
  • The Award for Professional Innovation in Victim Services, instituted in 2002 in memory of OVC employee Susan Laurence who helped professionals who had not traditionally served victims to develop effective victim responses.
  • The Special Courage Award recognizing those who have demonstrated extraordinary bravery in the aftermath of crime.
  • The Allied Professional Award recognizing those from a specific discipline outside the victim assistance field for their service to victims and the victims field.
  • The Volunteer for Victims Award honoring those who serve crime victims without compensation, in addition to their other responsibilities.
  • The Federal Service Award honoring individuals for their direct service to victims of federal crime.
  • New in 2006: the Ronald Wilson Reagan Public Policy Award honoring an individual whose leadership, vision, and innovation have led to significant changes in public policy and practice that benefit crime victims. For information about past award recipients' accomplishments, visit OVC's NCVRW page.

National Crime Victims' Rights Week Community Awareness Projects

The National Crime Victims' Rights Week (NCVRW) Community Awareness Projects initiative helps communities raise awareness of victims' rights and services. Through this initiative, approximately 60 victim assistance organizations nationwide are selected each year to receive up to $5,000 in reimbursement for their innovative outreach and public awareness activities carried out during NCVRW. Specifically, project funds help defray costs associated with the following activities:

  • Advertising to promote NCVRW events, victims' rights, and services.
  • Design and print of promotional or educational materials, posters, invitations, and fliers.
  • Purchase of supplies, materials, and equipment used in public awareness events and activities.
  • Support of NCVRW event speakers.

A requirement of the funding is development of a community-wide, collaborative approach that highlights services for all types of crime victims. The strategy should involve various organizations within the community, such as victim assistance organizations, faith-based and community organizations that provide services to crime victims, criminal justice system agencies, the civic and business communities, and schools, colleges and universities. Public agencies, nonprofit organizations, community-based victim service organizations, community coalitions, faith-based organizations, academic institutions, and tribal organizations are eligible to apply. Funding is intended to support community-based campaigns, not campaigns that are state or national in scope. For details about the 2004 and 2005 initiatives, visit the project's home page on the OVC Web site.

National Public Awareness and Education Campaign

OVC launched the National Public Awareness and Education Campaign to increase public awareness of and support for victims' rights, issues, and services, and to help victims' voices resonate across the country. This project, conducted through a grant to Justice Solutions, Inc., is implementing a national strategy to increase awareness of victims' issues and the role of OVC and the Crime Victims Fund in serving victims. The grantee is creating resource materials for use during National Crime Victims' Rights Week (NCVRW), developing awareness activities and supporting resources, and will publish an article about OVC, the Fund, and victims' issues in a major national publication.

A major accomplishment of this project is the development of a series of Public Service Announcements (PSAs). Seven PSAs were released in 20-, 30-, and 60-second formats, for broadcast on national, regional, and local network and cable television stations. They are designed to increase awareness among crime victims and survivors about their rights and the services available to assist them, and to educate the public about the impact of crime on victims and survivors, victims' rights, and services for crime victims. Additional information about the PSA Campaign, including an online version of the PSA Partner Kit, is available at www.crimevictims.gov. The campaign is building the capacity of victim service organizations to develop and sustain ongoing public awareness and victim outreach activities at the community level. For more information, call Justice Solutions at 202–448–1710.

OVC Resource Center

The OVC Resource Center (OVCRC) provides information and resources to the victim assistance field to support the efforts of national, international, state, military, and tribal victim assistance and criminal justice agencies and other professional organizations in promoting fundamental rights and comprehensive services for all victims.

As part of the National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS), OVCRC offers:

  • Staff members to answer questions or conduct research.
  • Publications from all U.S. Department of Justice agencies.
  • The NCJRS library, which houses thousands of scholarly reports, journal articles, books, and other media on criminal justice and victim issues and research. Under the keyword "Victims," users can rapidly access sources through topic listings kept current by OVCRC staff.
  • A variety of online services.
  • The biweekly online newsletter JUSTINFO.
  • Information about past and upcoming conferences nationwide.

OVCRC's main focus is on practitioners, including federal, state, local, and tribal agencies that serve victims and victim service providers; private nonprofit victim service organizations; victim advocacy organizations; researchers and educators; and victims' rights organizations.

For more details, visit the OVCRC Web site.

Oral History Project

The victims' movement is a contemporary example of positive social evolution that has grown over the past 30 years into a national platform for putting victims first. The federal government accepted responsibility for national leadership by first convening the President's Task Force on Victims of Crime in 1982 and later establishing OVC to administer the Crime Victims Fund. OVC recognizes that many movement leaders contributed to this evolution. Under OVC's Oral History Project, key contributors to the success of the victims' movement have been interviewed about their involvement in advancing policy and practice. This progress and the impact of the President's task force will be documented in special reports, and an online archive will be developed memorializing the field's achievements and its pioneers. For more information, call Justice Solutions at 202–448–1710.

Public Awareness in Underserved Communities

OVC recently launched this pilot project to raise the awareness of traditionally underserved populations on victims' rights as well as to improve their knowledge about how to access local services available to crime victims. Grant awards were made to five organizations to support the planning and development of victimization-focused public awareness campaigns targeted at underserved populations with limited English proficiency (LEP) in the local community. Victim service organizations will work in partnership with ethnic media (radio, print, television) as well as ethnic- and/or faith-based organizations to produce linguistically and culturally appropriate public awareness campaigns on one or more victimization issues.

Youth Outreach for Victim Assistance Project

In conjunction with National Center for Victims of Crime, the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) is developing youth-led education and awareness initiatives in 20 school and community-based sites. The primary goals are to educate adolescents on the dynamics of victimization and increase the capacity of local victim service providers to address the special needs of adolescent victims. The project is developing a training curriculum, a national training for 20 sites, training and technical assistance to sites, and a toolkit.


OVC steadfastly works to put victims first and make their voices heard. To promote and increase the public's awareness of victims' needs and to improve services available to victims, OVC continually fine-tunes its initiatives and creates new ones that enhance its message about victims' rights, services, and issues. Better awareness leads to enhanced comprehensive services for all victims of crime.

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