UConn Health Students Against Violence in Schools (SAVS), formally the UConn Anti-Bullying Class, is a program developed to provide education to middle and high-school students on promoting healthy relationships and preventing violence. The goal is to take initial steps towards preparing and empowering youth to function as peer ambassadors against violence, with special emphasis on the research-supported bystander model. Workshops last approximately one hour and are facilitated by a group of dedicated UConn medical students who are advised by a Department of Psychiatry faculty member.
Learning objectives are for youth participants to be able to:
- Define and identify emotional and physical forms of violence;
- Explain the consequences of violence for both victims and perpetrators;
- Describe the role of bystanders in preventing and addressing violent behavior;
- Outline specific steps to take when encountering violence, directly or indirectly; and
- Identify school, local, and national resources for seeking help and guidance.
The workshop format is designed to be interactive and involves students engaging in active discussion around these topics and working in small groups to role-play and think through different types of scenarios. Prior to the workshop, the UConn SAVS team interfaces with school personnel to understand their policies on school violence, procedures and practices relating to violence, and school-based resources for victims and perpetrators of violence. This information is incorporated in learning sessions.