School Violence: The SAVE Program

The National Association of Students Against Violence Everywhere, or SAVE, was created by students from around the country, and meant to educate students on the growing problem of school violence. Worldwide attention seems to only be focused on incidents such as the school shooting at Littleton, Colorado’s Columbine High School. While the less severe forms of violence such as outbursts that result in physical assaults, verbal assaults, bullying, public ridicule and discrimination, are often over looked as “part of growing up”. SAVE promotes non-violence within the public and private school systems and community, as well as provides education about the effects and consequences of violent acts. SAVE strives to focus attention to all forms of violence, not just the cases of violence that result in death or injury. SAVE also works to provide safe alternative activities within the community for students, parents, and care givers. The program was originally started by Angelena Bynum, a student, and Gary Weart, a teacher, from West Charlotte High School in North Carolina, in 1989 in memory of Alex Orange, a student from their school. Alex was shot while trying to break up a fight at a party.

The SAVE program can be implemented as an addition to regular school curriculum in elementary schools, or as a club in middle schools, high schools, colleges, and community organizations. To initiate a SAVE Chapter, students should obtain permission from the school Principal. Students might wish to take an opinion poll of the student body and be able to give the principal some hard data to support the student body’s desire for such a club or Chapter. Then the student(s) should recruit 1-2 teachers, as many parents as possible, or school resource officers to serve as advisors. Advise the student council and announce the first meeting to the student body regarding the formation of the new club and Chapter. The free SAVE sampler can be obtained from the National Association of SAVE. It includes a registration form, a sample constitution, and a more detailed step-by-step suggestion list for beginning a Chapter or club. The SAVE approach at the middle and high school levels and community organizations is through chapters that can meet before, during or after school hours. Chapters can meet monthly or bi-weekly. Information and resources will be provided at the end of this article for you to contact the National Association of SAVE.

In 1995, SAVE was bestowed the President’s Service Award (the nation’s highest volunteer award) for the dedication and determination in keeping the message of non-violence known and keeping schools and communities safe. In addition, the 2001-2002 SAVE Youth Advisory Board members received individual Presidential Student Service Awards for their work with SAVE through the Youth Advisory Board. SAVE members participate in numerous activities including conflict management, SAVE week, community volunteer work, SAVE rallies with other chapters, violence free pledge drives, and fundraisers. They also speak to other school students, attend the annual SAVE Summit, serve as a SAVE Youth Advisory Board member, design t-shirts, and advocate for nonviolence everywhere. SAVE advisors can be teachers, school counselors, parents, administrators, school resource officers, or other interested adults approved by the school or community organization. The colors of SAVE are purple and orange. The color purple is used because it is the universal color for nonviolence and peace. The color orange is used in remembrance of Alex Orange.

Some Disturbing Facts and Figures:
The National School Safety and Security Services reports the following school related violent deaths per school year:
To date 2004-2005: Thirty-nine school associated deaths. Another 158 additional non-death shootings and other incidents of high-profile violence, including stabbings and riots, occurred nationwide this school year.
2003-2004: Forty-nine school associated deaths; 68 additional non-death shootings
2002-2003: Sixteen school associated deaths
2001-2002: Seventeen school deaths

To Contact SAVE:
National Association of SAVE
322 Chapanoke Road, Suite 110
Raleigh, NC 27603
E-mail: cwray@nationalsave.org
Toll-free: (866) 343-SAVE
Local: (919) 661-7800
Fax: (919) 661-7777
Website

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