VIOLENCE INTERVENTION PROGRAM (VIP)
1. Briefly describe the structure of your program.
The Violence Intervention Program is now an independent not for profit agency whose mission is to prevent violence by changing community attitudes and fostering individualsí responsibility to solve their own conflicts. VIP teaches conflict resolution skills and provides mediation as a structured process through which to settle disputes. Mediation helps people communicate and work together to resolve their differences. Last year a community celebration for peer mediation involved over 450 students, parents, and educators with a contagious enthusiasm for conflict resolution, a direction that changes their schools and their lives.
2. When was the program created and why?
The program originated in 1992 as a project sponsored by the City of Elkhart Human Relations Commission. The Commission provided office space and support for a intern conducting a survey on Community Attitudes Toward Violence as his Masterís thesis. The survey produced important data on the communityís perception of violence as it related to frequency, seriousness and other factors. This led eventually to a community dialogue on violence related issues including handgun safety and registration. After the death of some local youths from gunshot wounds, a number of young people under the VIP auspices organized Drop Your Guns and conducted a number of gun buy backs in the community. Today Drop Your Guns has evolved into H.E.L.P., Healing Elkhart Through Little People which continues to be committed to stopping violence in the community. VIP, recognizing that there were many ways to address violence worked for a period of time with unpaid staff and a steering committee before forming a Board of Directors and becoming incorporated as a not for profit organization.
3. How do you measure the programís effectiveness?
One measure is the increase in the types of programs available which have grown to include mediation and conflict resolution used by the courts, neighbors, churches, businesses, landlords and tenants and other groups. VIP also trains volunteers in mediation and conflict resolution. In the 1996-1997 time period peer mediation resulted in 200 students and 100 staff trained, 2000 students, 390 staff and 30 parents learned conflict resolution skills, over 500 conflicts were mediated, 81% of mediations reached an agreement. In community mediation during the same time period, 225 persons in the community were educated in conflict resolution, 102 mediations in small claims court served 248 persons, 64% of the disputes were resolved, 89 persons participated in community mediations and 75% of the mediations resulted in agreements. The H.E.L.P. program presented the drama "Click" locally and at a national conference on violence in Pittsburgh, participated in numerous community forums which resulted in 30 youth and 8 adults directly involved, over 1500 youth and adults heard the message of peace and non-violence, 150 youth participated in sponsored activities and 12 organizations and churches collaborated with the program.
4. How is the program financed?
When it was originally a project housed within the Human Relations Commission the expenses were incorporated into the department budget. In the 1996-1997 period there was a total income of $160,789. $62,675 came from a combination of City and State grants, $66.207 from community support and $31,907 from fees for services.
5. How is the community involved in the program, if at all? How has the community responded to the program?
The community as a whole has been supportive of new programs in the school, courts, business, neighborhoods and churches. They have provided monetary contributions and more importantly stepped forward to work directly as Board members representing a wide cross section of the community.
6. Contact person:
The United States Conference of Mayors
J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
Copyright © 1999, US Conference of Mayors, All rights reserved.