The MVP Model
The Mentors in Violence Prevention Programme (MVP) developed in the 1990’s by American Educationalist Dr Jackson Katz utilises a creative bystander approach to prevent all forms of bullying and gender based violence. Males and females are not looked at as potential victims or perpetrators but as empowered and active bystanders with the ability to support and challenge peers. Within the MVP Programme a bystander is defined as a friend, class-mate, team-mate, colleague or relative. In other words, it is someone they know.
Friendships are an important discussion point within any MVP scenario. When does something become your business? Do I have a responsibility to help or even challenge a friend? Discussing these questions will help guide young people and support a trusting school environment building strong relationships and in turn supporting successful learning.
The key training tool within the MVP Programme is the ‘MVP playbook’. The playbook supports the discussion based teaching approach within the MVP Programme offering a consistent approach to delivery of all MVP sessions. The ‘playbook’ offers excellent opportunities to discuss issues such as:
- • Dating Abuse
- • Harassment
- • Bullying
- • Sexting
- • Control
- • Alcohol and consent
The aims of the MVP Programme are simple and straightforward. All centre upon the behaviours that are acted out within all playbook scenarios.
- 1. To raise awareness
- 2. To challenge attitudes
- 3. To open dialogue
- 4. To inspire leadership
The MVP Programme isn’t a programme that teaches boys and girls not to bully or abuse, it is a leadership programme and provides an excellent opportunity to develop leadership skills amongst young people.
The programme seeks to inspire individual leadership from people faced with challenging situations. After discussing a particular issue the bystander is offered with a range of safe and realistic options they could use to prevent an escalation in behaviours. Many bystanders choose to intervene at the point of physical abuse. The MVP Programme seeks to have bystanders get involved earlier. It’s safe and prevents further harm to a victim or to the bystander.
The MVP Programme is a peer mentoring programme. Once schools receive initial training their next task is to recruit and train a team of MVP mentors from the upper part of the school. It is this ‘boy to boy’ and ‘girl to girl’ mentoring that has demonstrated positive outcomes for the MVP programme as well as giving MVP mentors valuable life skills.
Today young people are faced with a number of challenges all of which have the potential to be damaging to their relationships with peers and impact on their success at school. These challenges includes issues such as access to porn, bullying, sexting, alcohol as well as the types of media that young people are exposed to.
Young people don’t just watch media they consume it. The potential for it to shape their view of the world is very clear. Adverts and media sell and display more than products or imagery. They define relationships and define who we are and who we want to be. We need to provide a strong counter-balance to the sometimes unhealthy, and potentially even dangerous, messages our young people are consuming.
What can we do to support young people during these important school years? How can we support teachers and other school staff to deal effectively with the many issues that impact on their teaching capacity? These are both questions that MVP can answer.
Every MVP session promotes discussion on these subjects. Rather than simply telling young people not to post sexualised images of themselves on the internet we should be asking why is this happening and making the links to media, especially pornography. MVP Sessions will start to make links between sexting and dating abuse. Young people need to understand the consequences, but importantly we need to look at these through the eyes of young people and support their understanding.
Since the programme’s inception MVP trainings have featured honest and lively debates that centre around social norms of masculinity and femininity, sex and gender. For example we discuss the objectification of women in media, including pornography and ask though provoking questions about whether this objectification might contribute to harassment and abuse. We talk openly with younger men about how pressures to be ‘one of the guys’ can affect their willingness to intervene and interrupt abusive behaviours by their peers.
The MVP Programme recognises the simple fact that the majority of young people across Scotland are healthy individuals who do not involve themselves in these types of behaviours. However it also recognises that a powerful social norm prevents individuals from being themselves. The MVP programme seeks to confirm to young people their healthy attitudes are the norm.