The Society for Prevention of Violence is dedicated to reducing the prevalence of violent acts and asocial behaviors of children and adults through education. It accomplishes this mission by teaching children and adults the use of the skills necessary to build their character and helps them develop a strong value system. Children and adults are also motivated to improve their communication skills and to realize growth in their interpersonal relationships. The mission encourages the integration of social and academic skills to help the nation’s youth reach their full potential and contribute to our nation’s society by being able to make decisions and solve problems through effective and appropriate means.
The vision became a reality a quarter of a century ago with the establishment of the non profit 501 (c) (3) organization by Ruth and S. J. Begun, physicists, who in the 1930’s, immigrated to the United States from Central Europe. Ruth was a scientist at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Lewis Research Center. She was awarded a presidential citation for her work. Joe was an inventor/pioneer in magnetic recording and the chief technology officer for Clevite Corporation. His genius is enshrined at the National Inventors Hall of Fame in Akron, Ohio. The Beguns stressed that the social skills training must be done in a systematic manner by using a technique employed by mediators to resolve conflicts. The training was implemented in the Cleveland Public Schools in 1983 and by 1990, the training program had expanded to 100 buildings. Emerging from a single social skills workshop, SPV began to meet the need for teacher re-certification in Ohio. Ready to Use curricula workbooks were published in 1995 to supplement the anti violence theme. John Wiley & Sons , the world’s largest textbook publisher, helped SPV meet the demand for the new workbooks. The workbooks were age appropriate in English with the emphasis on social skills and anti violence themes. The guides were used across the country. In addition, the guides were also translated into Croat, Korean and Hebrew.
During the next twenty years, through the determination of Ruth Begun, Executive Director, and the experience of a highly knowledgeable staff , many new initiatives were implemented. Workshops with college credits, parent training sessions, teacher in-services, social skills training to youngsters and collaborative projects both in/out of the United States were developed. A significant undertaking continues today in Israel.
The Society’s educational approach was and continues to be one of the few PROACTIVE resources that are available to change violent behaviors. It is more common to rely on REACTIVE tools when dealing with problems of violence.
The Society has recently moved to a new location at the Ashland Cleveland Center on Richmond Road in Warrensville Heights, Ohio to continue its affiliation with Ashland University. More partnerships have started with nonprofit organizations and educational and social service organizations to burnish SPV’s reputation as an innovative leader in social skills education. The Society, in recent months, has reduced administrative costs and increased workshop participation. The SPV newsletter was published to spread the good news. More instructors were trained to teach the workshops. A process was developed to identify key teacher coordinators across the State of Ohio and a new marketing strategy employed to advertise SPV across a network of 5000 key school personnel. A new computer based management system is also being developed to allow SPV to interact with the Educational Service Centers in Ohio’s 88 counties and the 601 Ohio school districts. Soon, SPV will be in position to increase the number of participants in our eleven (11) related workshop titles through collaboration with Cleveland State University, Ashland University, Kent State University, Lake Erie College and Ursuline College.
With an active Board of Trustees and new executive leadership, SPV anticipates the development and implementation of pilot school based teacher led teams to carry the SPV mission and instructional strategies into the K-12 school buildings this fall. We envision the creation of a Safe Schools Center which will provide educators, schools, school districts and social service and community organizations with support services to proactively address asocial and violent behavior in children and adults. This effort will represent a “ repositioning” of the Society into a larger arena and geographic area for direct service to schools, professional staff, students and community organizations.