The Respect Ambassador Program (RAP) is designed as a violence prevention program that educates young people how to behave respectfully and compassionately towards others. The skills, language and bystander training are aimed at modifying both current primary school behaviour and, by extension, the behaviour of these individuals as they mature into adults.
The RAP was informed by the work NIRODAH has completed in schools with two successful programs, KidzBiz and Be the Hero! Both of these violence prevention programs feature bystander education as their key platform and both focus upon education strategies for developing respectful relationships as an antidote to violent behaviours.
Particular to the RAP is the core theme of compassion and empathy for the bully, an approach that runs counter to many bullying interventions. Informed through NIRODAH’s direct work with disengaged young people, input from our team of psychologists, and evidence based research, we know that, in many cases, the perpetrator of violence is often a victim of trauma themselves. In turn, their behaviours can work as defense mechanisms or may be used as distraction from their own pain.
NIRODAH has now delivered RAP into 20 schools in Victoria with enormous success. We were selected to present the findings of RAP at the National Centre Against Bullying conference in Melbourne in 2014 and was accepted to present further evidence of the impact of the program at the conference again in July 2016.
Informed from world best practice antiviolence programs, particularly the American Blueprints model, RAP will educate young people in the appropriate use of language and positive behaviours, and integrates peer-to-peer education. It provides students with the skills and language that they can use to build a safe and respectful school community.