AVB in Palm Beach County

Aggressors, Victims, and Bystanders (AVB) has been adopted for implementation in middle schools across Palm Beach County, Florida. In fact, under the leadership of James Kelly, Palm Beach County School District Police Chief, a new center has been established to help train police officers, deputies, and others to implement this program. The following letter (edited for length) was written by a police officer who teachers AVB to sixth grade students:   

I was in the hallway as classes were changing. I was between two sets of lockers. I noticed two students standing face to face with angry looks on their faces, and it looked like they were going to fight. I didn't recognize the students, so they must have been in the seventh or eighth grade. Just as I was going to step out and separate the two, I noticed one of my sixth graders pass by and stop. Of all the sixth graders that had to stop, it had to be Junior. You could classify Junior as an active "aggressor." Throughout my program while Junior was my student, he did nothing but talk and clown around. At one point I had to send him out of class because his interruptions were hindering other students from learning.

I thought to myself, I am about to have a three-way fight on my hands. But I couldn't believe what unfolded. Junior began to talk to the students. In a calming voice, he began to reason with them, telling them that by fighting it wouldn't solve the problem, and it would get them suspended. Junior became a successful problem-solving bystander. The two students listened to what Junior had to say and went their separate ways.

Stunned and proud, I stepped out from behind the lockers. Just then, Junior turned and saw me. It was what he said next that made me appreciate the program even more. "I guess I was paying attention in class," he said.

This just goes to show that even though students may look as though they aren't paying attention, we can't give up and we must continue to teach them. They are listening, if we are willing to instruct them.

- Deputy Sheriff Gervasio Torres, Jr.
 Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office