Mentors in Violence Prevention programme reaches Argyll and Bute secondary schools

The Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) programme which is delivered by Education Scotland has now reached the Argyll and Bute local authority.

The MVP programme aims to empower students to safely speak out against all forms of violence and abusive behaviour, to recognise the potential harm in relationships and to understand what a healthy and respectful relationships looks like.

This month, staff and partners from Dunoon Grammar, Tarbert Academy and Rothesay Joint Campus, undertook professional learning to increase awareness of key elements of the programme such as different types of abuse, knife crime, unhealthy relationships, gender based violence and bullying.  

Pauline Lynch, education officer from Education Scotland, said: 'The MVP programme has now reached 28 out of the 32 local authorities which is a huge achievement and shows our dedication to ensure young people are identified not as victims or perpetrators but as empowered bystanders able to challenge abusive and bullying behaviour amongst their peers and support their friends.

'Young people are provided with a range of safe options which can prevent situations from escalating. The programme’s peer education model sees senior pupils trained to deliver lessons to their younger peers on a range of issues from social media use and domestic abuse to homophobic language and consent.'

David Mitchell, Head Teacher at Dunoon Grammar School said: 'A number of teaching staff in Dunoon Grammar School had the opportunity to take part in the Mentors in Violence training. The programme encourages staff and pupil to tackle unacceptable behaviour and situations. This will add to the positive ethos we have established in our school.'

Niven Rennie, Director of the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit commented on the programme expanding: 'MVP has been extremely successful and it's impact can be seen when you look at the latest homicide figures and see this is no longer a young person’s offence which shows the success Scotland has made in reducing violence with projects such as MVP.'  

MVP is an approach to gender violence and bullying prevention that was first developed in 1993 in the United States at the Northeastern University's Centre for the Study of Sport in Society by Dr Jackson Katz. It’s has become one of the country’s longest-running and most influential violence prevention initiatives operating in high schools, colleges and within the military.

Seeing the potential of the scheme the VRU (Violence Reduction Unit) decided to adapt the programme and bring it to Scotland in 2011 where it was successfully piloted at St Stephen’s High School and Port Glasgow High School in Inverclyde and Portobello High School in Edinburgh.

Based on the ‘bystander’ approach MVP motivates everyone to get involved in safely challenging abuse. The programme sees students as a school’s greatest resource in achieving this and trains senior pupils to act as peer mentors who then deliver sessions to younger students in the school.

Currently more than 2600 senior pupils are trained as mentors, with the mentors going on to deliver around 3500 lessons a year.

Sessions target issues such as bullying, gender norms, domestic violence, knife crime and harmful sexual behaviour.