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In 1998, the California Youth Authority and Mothers Against Drunk Driving developed the first comprehensive national victim impact curriculum with funding from OVC. Since then, the victim impact program has been replicated in many states, in both juvenile and adult facilities.
OVC recognized the need for a standardized curriculum that could be used with adults and juveniles—one that puts “victims first,” and in 2005, it awarded funding to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to develop one.
In 2016, OVC Training and Technical Assistance Center (OVC TTAC) updated statistics, terminology, and other information throughout the curriculum. In addition, OVC TTAC revised several pre-/post-test questions and added an automatic scoring process.
Victim Impact: Listen and Learn consists of 13 units, built around 10 core crime topics: property crime, assault, robbery, hate and bias, gang violence, sexual assault, child abuse and neglect, domestic violence, drunk and impaired driving, and homicide.
The basic precepts of the Victim Impact curriculum are—
- Victims and the impact of crime on them are the focus.
- Victims' personal experiences are the centerpiece.
- Victims deserve to have their rights enforced and their voices heard.
- Anyone can become a victim of crime.
- Victimization creates a “ripple effect” throughout the community.
- Offenders have the opportunity to change their thinking and their behavior.
- Offenders have an obligation to make amends to their victims, directly and indirectly.
The curriculum integrates clips from OVC's DVD, Victim Impact: Listen and Learn, which was developed at the request of victim service coordinators from around the country who were seeking to supplement their impact of crime programs.
The curriculum may be taught to either adult or juvenile offenders who are in custody or community-based correctional settings. Offenders are selected for participation in one of three ways:
- A parole authority mandates the class;
- The offender is referred through a casework process; or
- The offender volunteers to attend.
Most states have found the program to be most effective when offenders who have been charged with various crimes are mixed together in one group rather than being segregated by offense. Parts of the curriculum have been used effectively in treatment groups with a specific offender population, however.
Although facilitators are not required to be content experts, they are encouraged to research victim impact topics and consult with experts. Thorough preparation and knowledge of the subject are the foundation for effective facilitation.
The challenge is setting up a rich learning environment that incorporates relevant curriculum materials, adult-centered learning principles, experiential learning opportunities, cultural sensitivity, and activities to facilitate changes in offenders' thinking, feeling, and behavior.
Facilitators using this curriculum should have the following qualifications:
- Demonstrated effectiveness as trainers.
- Familiarity with adult-centered, problem-based learning methods.
- Experience in organizing, presenting, and discussing complex issues.
- Ability to lead discussions and encourage exchange among participants.
- Ability to identify offenders who require further treatment to help them deal with resistant victimizing attitudes or behavior.
In addition, facilitators should—
- Approach training as a facilitator, not an instructor.
- Engage participants in discussion, critical thinking, and problem solving.
- Demonstrate a commitment to a multidisciplinary approach to training.
- Prepare thoroughly for all training sessions.