Spitzer Reports On School Anti-violence Initiative

Attorney General Eliot Spitzer today released a two-year progress report on his Students Against Violence Initiative (SAVI) as he convened a statewide conference on the innovative program.

"My experience with SAVI over the last two years has only reaffirmed my confidence that students can help make our schools safe for teaching and learning," said Spitzer. "Given opportunity and support from school administrators and faculty, students can, and should, play a key role in building and protecting their school communities."

Spitzer spoke to more than 200 students attending an all-day SAVI conference in Albany.

The Attorney General’s Office has worked with students and school staff in 10 high schools across the state over the last two years to administer a program dedicated to eliminating violence and abuse between students. SAVI gives students the opportunity and responsibility to determine the primary causes of conflict between students in their school and to develop strategies to address those issues.

School administrators hail SAVI as an innovative approach to combating violence in schools.

Sandra Lockwood, President of the New York State School Boards Association, said: "The Students Against Violence Initiative recognizes that school violence is not just a problem for the school, but for the entire community. It demonstrates to students that they have a responsibility – and can have an impact – that goes well beyond their personal behavior. These are valuable lessons to carry into adulthood."

Mary Jalloh, Executive Director of the New York State Center for School Safety, said: "The SAVI program has taken a proactive, systemic approach to the eradication of violence in New York State’s high schools and is focused on the key to success -- the students."

Jane Bernhard, President of the New York State PTA, said: "As members of the largest child advocacy organization in the world, PTA members strive to attain better communication with their children, and to forge that link to our children’s schools. It is essential that parents involve themselves in the life of their schools. When schools, parents and the community are pulling in the same direction, a significant influence on the behavior of students can be produced."

SAVI begins in each school with a needs assessment conducted by students to determine the types of violence or abuse that confront the school. Typical problems may include relationship violence, bias, harassment, hate crimes, weapons and gangs . Working with school staff and adults from the community, students then develop and implement strategies to address the problems. Strategies vary from school to school, but may include:

  • peer education;
  • peer mediation; and,
  • student courts.

The Attorney General’s Office encourages all New York high schools to consider beginning a SAVI program.

High schools taking part in the SAVI program are:

  • Albany High School, Albany County
  • Bennett High School, Buffalo, Erie County
  • Binghamton High School, Broome County
  • Berkshire Union Free School, Canaan, Columbia County
  • Ellenville High School, Ulster County
  • Hempstead High School, Nassau County
  • Nottingham High School, Syracuse, Onondaga County
  • Onteora High School, Boiceville, Ulster County
  • Paul Robeson High School, Brooklyn, Kings County
  • Port Chester High School, Westchester County

The SAVI program is coordinated by Assistant Attorney General Galen Kirkland under the direction of Assistant First Deputy Attorney General Francine James.