Make a Difference with Victim Studies

Illustration of an open door.

The Victim Studies Program at the College of Criminal Justice will hold an Open House on Oct. 25 to highlight the degree program, internships, the Crime Victims’ Institute and a student organization in the field.

“The Victim Studies degree is designed to prepare students for careers as professionals in victim services delivery or victim advocacy,” said Dr. Leana Bouffard, Director of the Crime Victims’ Institute and Advisor for the program. “Graduates will have a broad range of knowledge about victimology, victim services delivery, agency operations, interagency collaboration, direct victim services, traumatology, and criminal justice procedures.”

The Open House will be held from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Friel Room in the Criminal Justice Center. Students will get an opportunity to meet with faculty, students and staff in the program. Pizza and beverages will be served.

Dr. Leana Bouffard
Dr. Leana Bouffard
Sam Houston State University offers a Bachelor’s degree in Victim Studies to prepare students for careers to assist victims in law enforcement agencies, corrections, prosecutor offices, courts and other facilities, including nongovernment organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Graduates can serve in crime-specific programs for domestic violence shelters, anti-drunk driving campaigns and agencies that protect children, the elderly, immigrants and those who are physically or mentally abused.

The Victim Studies program is one of the few programs of its kind in the country and offers a multidisciplinary degree consisting of courses from the College of Criminal Justice, Political Science, Business, and Psychology. Similar to the Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice, the BA in Victim Studies requires the core college courses, criminal justice and social science electives, and additional hours of a foreign language. In the future, the College is expected to introduce a Master’s program to develop administrative leaders in these professions.

SHSU Student Tasha Arevalo was an intern with the Houston Chapter of MADD.
SHSU Student Tasha Arevalo was an intern with the Houston Chapter of MADD.
In addition to the degree program, the College offers about 50 internship opportunities with federal, state and local agencies, as well as nonprofit organizations that work with victims. Students can get real life experience in the field at agencies across the state, and a few are even paid opportunities. Students are encouraged to take an internship their senior year to gain experience and to make connections for jobs after graduation. Internships require full-time work for a semester, and students can earn nine credits toward their degree.

The College is also on the cutting edge of emerging issues in victim studies through the Crime Victims’ Institute, an agency created by the Texas Legislature to improve services to victims, provide research on key issues, offer a voice for victims, and recommend policies to state and local governments. The agency is providing briefings for the upcoming Texas legislative session on the cost – both physically and mentally – of victimization, and it recently released its first report on bullying.

Logo for Crime Victims' Institute.

The Crime Victims’ Institute has produced studies on the Choking Game, gangs, intimate partner violence, immigrants,, elder abuse, hate crimes and the availability of victims services in the state, to name a few. Reports are available online, and the institute is introducing a newsletter to highlight its activities and projects.

Many of the faculty at Sam Houston State University are involved in active research projects in victims issues, providing new and important insight in the field and offering opportunities for students to be involved in those studies.

Photo of the student organization, the Crime Victim Services Alliance.
The Crime Victim Services Alliance
Finally, the College has a student organization that is dedicated to preserving and enhancing the rights of victims. In addition to featuring speakers from the field, the Crime Victim Services Alliance actively support victim rights through clothing drives, community service and office visits.

“The Crime Victim Services Alliance is a wonderful opportunity for students to get involved in victim advocacy while at SHSU,” said Molly Smith, who helped revive the organization at SHSU. “CVSA promotes victim services as both a movement and a profession. We also work closely with SAAFE House throughout the year by collecting toiletry donations and volunteering at their resale shop.”

Member of The Texas State University System