After their school’s annual clean up of a local cemetery, seventh-grade students expressed their frustration over seeing destruction and vandalism of historic gravestones. Wanting to help prevent vandalism in their community, the students discussed a possible service-learning project with their social studies teacher. The students decided to call their project Students Against Vandalism Everywhere (SAVE). Throughout their project, the students partnered with several local community groups including local law enforcement, local elected officials and the local fire department.
The students researched where, when and why vandalism occurs, reviewing studies, local and national newspaper articles and television news broadcasts. They researched statistics involving teenage vandalism and crime rates, and polled peers to learn about their personal experiences with vandalism. After looking at their research and meeting with numerous community partners, the students decided to design and implement an anti-vandalism campaign in area schools (including their own).
Using the slogan “Be part of the solution, NOT part of the problem,” the students created signs, bookmarks, bumper stickers and a PowerPoint presentation. The students met with local law enforcement, emergency responders and elected officials to talk about their efforts and share the resources they created. They also went to area schools to talk to their peers about not vandalizing. The students spread their message still further through presentations at local, state and regional conferences.
The students have been recognized nationally for their work, including receiving an award from the National Crime Prevention Council. The students also worked with the R.I. Attorney General to help create a Public Service Announcement focused on preventing teenage vandalism and crime!