Mentors in Violence Prevention programme

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Devon County Council and Safer Devon Partners are in the process of rolling-out a Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) programme for schools which will aim to reduce the harmful behaviours of young people. The programme uses a peer taught active bystander approach, with student mentors teaching their younger peers how to safely intervene when they see harmful behaviours occurring. This approach empowers young people to act as role models for their peers and encourages a cultural change where bullying, hate, and misogyny are viewed as unacceptable, therefore preventing related violent behaviours, whether verbal, physical, or sexual.

The programme was developed by Dr Jackson Katz in the USA to tackle gender-based violence. However, the programme can be used to address various concerns schools may have, including those around unhealthy relationships, bullying and online abuse.

MVP has now been implemented in schools in many locations around the UK, including in all 32 Scottish council areas, Merseyside, Birmingham and the West Midlands, Leicester, Leicestershire, and Rutland. More locally, Torbay Council are in the process of rolling out MVP to their schools.  

The responses from schools in localities that have implemented MVP have been highly positive. MVP has been cited as having reduced the levels of harmful behaviours that schools are seeing and increased the confidence of their students. Findings from Scotland found that following MVP delivery:   

  • 92% of student mentors and 86% of student mentees agreed or strongly agreed they could recognise healthy and unhealthy behaviours in their relationships.   
  • 95% of mentors and 80% of mentees agreed or strongly agreed that they know of different ways to help if they see bullying or abusive behaviour.  
  • 84% of mentors and 65% of mentees agreed or strongly agreed that they would take action if they saw a pupil being bullied or abused.   

We believe that by addressing the harmful behaviours occurring between peers, we can create a safe school environment for Devon students which is conducive for learning. For this reason and the success of MVP in other areas, a few schools in Devon will be taking part in a small ‘test and learn’ pilot commencing in the autumn term of the 2023/24 academic year to trial MVP in our county, with hopes of expanding the programme Devon-wide if successful.   

Schools are being supported with the implementation of the programme to ensure they receive its full benefits. Priorities include imbedding the programme’s ethos into the school culture, ensuring all staff champion the bystander approach, and setting aside time for the staff and mentor training plus regular peer-led MVP lessons.

If you have any questions or would like to register your school’s interest in being part of the Mentors in Violence Prevention Programme, please get in contact with Suzanna Palmer – suzanna.palmer@devon.gov.uk

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