Getting Started in Schools

Getting Started Step-by-Step

A new Youth Crime Watch program needs an advisor (a “Sparkplug”) to do the startup work. A sparkplug is usually affiliated with the school being proposed for the Youth Crime Watch program, someone such as a teacher, guidance counselor, administrator, school resource officer, or even a concerned member of the community; a parent or a member of the local Neighbourhood Watch organization. The younger the student age groups, the more structure and guidance they need from the advisor.

The instructions that follow are for advisors/sparkplugs. The reason the Youth Crime Watch advisor is called a “sparkplug” is because experience has demonstrated that every school has at least one adult who stands out, works well with students and is willing to go a little further to help prevent crime in their school.

1. General Checklist
The following list of actions can be used to form a checklist for initiating a Youth Crime Watch program.

a. Meet with school officials to obtain their approval to begin a Youth Crime Watch program.
Unless you as the Youth Crime Watch program originator are the principal or top school official, it is necessary to meet with school officials to get approval to start a Youth Crime Watch program.

Ask the principal to consider including faculty members and student leaders in this meeting. Take this Handbook and other Youth Crime Watch materials with you. You may want to bring Youth Crime Watch representatives, police officers, and others who would be interested in seeing Youth Crime Watch established at the school.

Describe the steps you will take to set up the program and what you are asking of the principal and school administrators. Emphasize the student-run aspects of Youth Crime Watch, the level of student involvement and the results of youth participation.

Discuss the value of after school activities and the positive options and alternative activities. Consider showing the Youth Crime Watch video. Ask the principal to consult with faculty members and staff to appoint a Youth Crime Watch advisor.

b. Determine who the sparkplug will be.
In collaboration with the principal, look for that special individual (every school has one) who will be the Youth Crime Watch sparkplug. Keep in mind that this person must be an energetic person with enthusiasm for Youth Crime Watch sparkplugs may be eligible for a teacher’s supplement.

c. Determine the major issues and concerns facing the school.
Conduct a meeting of the Youth Crime Watch advisor, the principal, and law enforcement officer to determine the major issues and concerns facing the school.

d. Publicize the program throughout the school.
Make sure everyone in the school knows that a Youth Crime Watch program is beginning. Give all chance to join early. Organize a means for students to sign up; send explanations of Youth Crime Watch to teachers and ask for their participation.

e. Select the students who will form the Youth Crime Watch Core Group.
There are several ways you can do this. You may ask the teacher of each class to recommend two students. You can make a request on the school PA system for students to sign up. You can send out notices and distribute applications asking students to come and interview to join Youth Crime Watch as if they were interviewing for a job. You may come up with your own method, by talking to school organizations such as student government clubs, the honour society, class boards, service clubs, service patrols, the drama, leadership and special-interest clubs. Explore assorted places you might expect to find the bright, energetic, serious, service-minded students you want for the Youth Crime Watch club. In some schools, the advisor, Vice Principal, and other Youth Crime Watch school staff hold interviews and select the Core Group youth for year one. In elementary schools Youth Crime Watch ordinarily includes from 6 to 50 “core” students. It’s important that this group be diverse, representative a good cross-section of all the students in the school, and free of a concentration of any factions.

f. Hold the first organizational meeting.
Set the time and date and hold the first Youth Crime Watch organizational meeting. Many school principals will approve of this being done during school hours, but otherwise you may hold it before school, at lunchtime or during after school hours. The two essential items on this agenda will to discuss what the school’s crime and drug problems are and to announce or discuss the election of Youth Crime Watch officers. Next, it is recommended that you accomplish a minimum of the following throughout the school year.
- Conduct a Youth Crime Watch installation ceremony.
- Establish a tip-reporting and general suggestion box.
- Hold weekly, bi-weekly or monthly meetings.
- Select startup activities.
- Form committees to carry out the activities agreed on.
- Make a calendar of startup events.
- Set the time and place for each Youth Crime Watch meeting.

g. Organize and present the Main Event Assembly
Hold the main event assembly o r general student body meeting to inform the students and teachers about Youth Crime Watch, the purpose and function of the program and how they can participate. Consider making applications to the Youth Crime Watch core group available.

h. Tell the adult community that Youth Crime Watch is starting.
Use posters, flyers, and personal contacts to inform the adult community surrounding the school that a Youth Crime Watch program is starting. Appeal to local corporations and businesses, Parent-Teacher Associations, and civic clubs (Rotary Optimists, Lions, etc) to become sponsors of Youth Crime Watch. They can consider providing donations in the form of money or goods such as Youth Crime Watch T-shirts, buttons, badges and banners, and materials for community service projects.

i. Obtain sources of crime prevention information
Call local law enforcement agencies to see if they can provide you with materials, guest speakers, and liaison personnel. Call local service agencies for drug prevention materials. Compile lists of reference information, authorities, and community service resources.

j. Select the ongoing events
These events may include regularly held educational programs, special events and contests. The advisor can help them to select and conduct a series of informative, educational, training, and stimulating special events and community service projects to advance the goals of the Youth Crime Watch program.

k. Consider becoming part of Youth Crime Watch of Nigeria
When you have organized your program, you are invited to become part of the nationwide network of Youth Crime Watch groups associated with Youth Crime Watch of Nigeria. By joining Youth Crime Watch of Nigeria you will benefit from the exchange of information and ideas in the newsletter. You will also be made aware of conference happenings and how to keep your Youth Crime Watch program alive, innovative, and exciting.

l. Maintain contact with Youth Crime Watch of America Headquarters.
Youth Crime Watch of America wants to be able to share ideas with you and learn of your activities, accomplishments, and problems. Of particular interest in the numbers of schools, students, and other participants you have, and any reports and articles that reveal statistics and stories on how your Youth Crime Watch program is functioning for you. This kind of information is needed to recognize you for efforts and to compile reports to send to others. Of course, you are encouraged to call any time with questions or requests for advice or assistance.