Cases of violence against women have been so rampant in society. Consequently, there are concerted efforts worldwide aimed at creating awareness among people on the issue. Policy makers have developed programs towards this end. The Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) Program is an example. The program, co-created in 1993 by Jackson Katz, focusses on enlisting various groups of people in fighting violence against women. At its inception, the program endeavored to use athletes in various sports in raising awareness on the need to fight gender-based violence in society.
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The use of athletes is attributed to the fact that they are seen as the role models in society. A typical example is where Miller Brewing Company used athletes in marketing one of its beer brands in 1972. Here, male athletes advertised a beer brand that had been deemed “feminine” in nature. This brought about a paradigm shift in the way people view women in society. Everyone learned a key lesson of respecting women hence the need to stop gender violence that was seen as being unacceptable in society.
Since its creation in 1993, the program’s key area of focus was on the use of athletes to create awareness on prevention of gender-based violence. This mandate was later extended to include high schools, as well as institutions of higher learning. Here, student leaders were used in awareness creation. Furthermore, it expanded in 1995, not only to involve men, but also women, who were initially seen as victims of gender-based violence in society. To this end, its current mandate has incorporated everyone that has influence in society. As such, both men and women are co-facilitators in various programs, as well as trainings. One of the program’s key achievements is provision of training to students, educators, and providers of social services.
MVP Philosophy: Bystander Approach
Under this approach, the program does not view men as perpetrators or women as victims of gender-based violence. Rather, MVP views all groups in society as bystanders who can be empowered to assist in tackling the problem. Here, all participants are trained to intervene in cases of violence, other than them being passive at such times.
The program’s key goals center on raising awareness, challenging one’s thinking, opening dialogue, and inspiring leadership. Additionally, people are taught to understand how serious the problem is in society, without necessarily having to experience it through raising awareness. People stop seeing bad things in society as being normal, but rather look for ways to change that perception when their thinking is challenged. Moreover, people feel free to talk about issues that affect them through being empowered by way of engaging in a dialogue. Who has benefitted from the Program?
Student Leadership & Engagement in Violence Prevention
The realization of the critical role that student leaders play in awareness creation has necessitated initiation of various models in educational institutions. These include the Bystander and Leadership Models, as well as the Mentors in Violence Prevention Model. The Bystander Models have programs that incorporate skills in students. These skills empower students to engage in activities that prevent violence. On the other hand, the MVP Program in High School Settings has empowered students enabling them to intervene and prevent violence. Additionally, majority of the students are satisfied with what MVP program has achieved so far. As such, students in learning institutions have been the key beneficiaries of the program.
The Student Leadership & Engagement in Violence Prevention can be more effective by having an implementation protocol that guides the program. At the high school level, there are four essential steps of implementation. These are the identification of the community MVP team members, assembling these members, recruiting and identifying mentors, and planning, implementing and assessing the MVP strategies in place. By so doing, the MVP program will achieve its long term goals.
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