Mentors in Violence Prevention
Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) is a peer education programme providing young people with the language and framework to explore and challenge the attitudes, beliefs and cultural norms that underpin gender-based violence, bullying and other forms of abuse.
The programme ‘scenarios’ explore a range of behaviours including name-calling, sexting, controlling behaviour and sexual harassment, and use a 'bystander' approach where individuals are not considered potential victims or perpetrators, but empowered and active bystanders with the ability to support and challenge their peers in a safe way. A strong emphasis is placed on building healthy, respectful relationships both in the school and in the community.
The programme has been running in Scotland since 2012, supported by Education Scotland in partnership with the Scottish Government and the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit. All 32 local authorities are engaged, with 29 actively delivering it in over 130 secondary schools. Evaluations highlight a number of key successes:
- Senior pupil mentors report an increase in confidence, leadership skills and a knowledge of gender-based violence.
- MVP can help build relationships between older and younger pupils in the school.
- The majority of younger pupils felt MVP had helped them to recognise healthy and unhealthy behaviours in a relationship.
- Following professional learning the majority of staff agreed that their awareness of gender-based violence had increased and that they felt more prepared to intervene in difficult situations involving friends, colleagues and peers.
There is a strong network of MVP practitioners and the national team at Education Scotland facilitate regular meetings, webinars and professional learning to support staff with the ongoing development of MVP in their school community. A training for trainers model means many local authorities now have their own pool of trainers delivering ongoing professional learning and supporting implementation.
Ongoing programme development is important to ensure MVP is relevant and reflecting the issues young people are experiencing. Most recent scenarios developed are on the topics of sexual harassment in school and child sexual exploitation. The programme has also been carefully adapted for delivery to pupils who require additional support.
Schools undertaking MVP will have made substantial progress towards addressing gender-based violence, contributing to a whole school approach in various ways - in particular through:
- involving senior students as leaders
- raising awareness with younger students through a peer education model
- training and development of staff involved in the programme
- awareness raising and professional development of all school staff and community partners
There may also be other ways that schools involved in the programme have further embedded the programme’s key aims and messages.
Schools can draw from ESAS tools to complement the MVP programme – for example:
- a basic awareness e-learning module for all staff
- enhanced-level training for staff involved in supporting students affected by GBV
- assessment and monitoring tools to review progress
- policy review materials
- staff-student action group materials