The Victim Impact Panel (VIP) program utilizes storytelling, dialogue, and reflection to help youth understand and internalize the impact that crime has on individual victims, their family and friends, and their community. In the program referred youth work one-on-one with a program facilitator to explore how different offenses impact individuals and communities. Where in other contexts youth may be defensive or self-focused, the structure of this program moves youth away from this mindset, allowing them to empathize with victims and see the far-reaching impact that even “simple” crimes can have.
When a youth is referred to VIP, a volunteer facilitator will schedule a time to talk with them (via phone or video-conference). In this session the facilitator and youth will discuss the types of harm that happen when crimes occur, watch a documentary together about a real-life offense and those impacted by it, and explore the different ways harm can look in the real world when kids commit offenses. After the phone call/video-conference a referred youth will write an essay about what they discussed and learned in the session.
The goal of this program is to provide a safe, appropriate environment where young people who have committed offenses can talk about the impact of crime and consider how their actions have affected others. The program is designed to help youth begin to understand the harm that results from crime and to recognize that victims are “real people” who are impacted in concrete and meaningful ways by crime. It is hoped that this realization will deter these youth from future offenses and encourage them to consider the unintended consequences their actions may have on others. Youth also have an opportunity to explore with program facilitators how they might repair the harm caused by their actions so they can move forward in a positive way.
The CDR relies on volunteers and student interns to support this program. If you would like more information on volunteering with this program please call 417-836-8831 or email CDR@MissouriState.edu.