MVP is a bystander-focused gender violence and bullying prevention approach that is especially well-suited to high school settings.
For the past 20 years, dozens of schools and school systems in Massachusetts, Iowa, Colorado, Montana, Washington, and elsewhere have utilized MVP.
Hundreds of educational institutions with diverse school-based populations of boys and girls, men and women have implemented MVP in mixed-gender and single-sex formats. In addition, MVP curricular materials are used in violence prevention, conflict resolution, and health and wellness classes across the U.S. and around the world.
It is important to note that although it began in the sports culture and retains some sports terminology, MVP has long worked successfully not only in athletics but with general populations of high school students in many diverse institutional settings.
MVP high school trainings empower students to take an active role in promoting a positive school climate. MVP can be implemented as a component of existing student leadership or mentorship programs. It can also be launched as its own school-wide initiative.
Leadership training is a key component of MVP’s approach to gender violence and bullying prevention, so it is natural to incorporate MVP training into existing high school leadership programs. For example, students who are athletic team captains, students who are active in mentoring programs, as well as student government officials or officers in student organizations can receive intensive MVP leadership training. These trainings can range from a half-day to a full day or even more. The length and scope of these trainings is customizable to meet each school’s needs.
Systematic school-wide training.
When a high school implements MVP systematically, the process typically starts with a two or three-day training of trainers, in which teachers, coaches and other professionals are taught MVP philosophy and methods. These professionals subsequently train students — juniors and seniors — to serve as “mentors” to incoming ninth grade students inside and outside classroom/workshop settings.
The student MVP mentors then lead younger students in interactive dialogues about what they can do in response to a variety of abusive and potentially abusive situations.
The heart of the trainings consists of role-plays intended to allow students to construct and practice viable options for active bystander intervention in response to incidents of harassment, abuse, or violence before, during, or after the fact.
Students learn that there is not simply “one way” to confront harassment and abuse, but that each individual can learn valuable skills to build their personal resolve and to act when faced with awkward, difficult, or threatening situations.
Because Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other forms of social media play a central role in the social and relational life of teens, MVP trainings also focus on cyber-bullying and other ways social media technologies can be misused – and the responsibility of bystanders to interrupt or intervene when peers cross the lines.
One of the most powerful aspects of the MVP program is the wide-ranging discussions we facilitate about gender norms and gender relations, including discussions about what sorts of behaviors are healthy inside and outside of relationships, and which cross the line and become unhealthy and/or abusive. MVP mentors are not expected to be “experts” on these matters, but are instead trained to help facilitate interactive dialogues about how everyone can play a role in interrupting and challenging abusive behaviors, and supporting victims/targets. MVP mentors are also trained to be a referral resource to students seeking more information or support.
MVP playbooks and trainer’s guides are customizable for diverse populations of students. Currently, materials are available for high school boys and girls. In some cases, these materials can be used with middle-school students as well. (MVP classes and workshops with middle-school students are typically conducted by MVP mentors who are high school students).
Faculty, staff and administrator training.
MVP Strategies trainers conduct professional development training with school personnel, either in tandem with or independent of system-wide implementation training for students. These trainings for educators include immersion in the philosophy and methods of MVP, as well as leadership training that focuses on the role of adult professionals in creating and sustaining a school climate that discourages abusive behaviors of any sort.