More young people in Merseyside have the confidence to seek support when they see violence occurring.
And there is also a greater recognition that they need to set a better example themselves if they want to see a reduction in abusive behaviour.
So says a report published today (Tuesday 14 February 2023) by Liverpool John Moore’s University which has questioned staff, students, and role model mentors from a Merseyside Violence Reduction Partnership (MVRP) programme running in thirty schools.
Delivered by the Merseyside Youth Association, the Mentors in Violence Prevention scheme empowers high school students to become active bystanders with the ability to support and challenge their peers in a safe way. It inspires them to think about violence through a gendered lens, challenge so-called “victim-blaming,” recognise the scope of violent behaviour and develop leadership skills.
Some 421 students received two days of training in becoming a mentor in violence prevention, with 331 going on to deliver the programme to their younger peers (mentees). Over 3,000 of these mentees had at least one training session while close-on 2,000 young people had a minimum of five. Nine schools even created media projects including vlogs, blogs, and films, with company Collaborate Digital on subjects as varied as bullying and homophobia.
“The fact that the young people took ownership of the content of sessions was crucial” said Geraldine O’Driscoll, Acting Head of the MVRP, “indeed, we worked with them prior to the programme to see which issues concerned them most, as these can vary by locality. It was encouraging to learn that many young people felt safer at school because of the programme and that a high percentage found it easy to understand, enjoyable and a good idea.”
The study followed a report on the then fledgling programme back in 2020-21 and saw marked increases in the willingness of young people to intervene and be active bystanders. It also showed that they yearned for more facts on the true nature and impact of violence and registered rises in confidence due to the course as well as improved timekeeping, better communication and, because older pupils tended to be mentors, supportive relationships were developed.
Staff at the schools were also questioned about their satisfaction around the programme. One hundred per cent said they would recommend it to others.
One of the Mentors told researchers: “MVP teaches you life skills on mental health and violence. It enlightens you on the effects that cause and prevent violence. For example gender lenses, victim blaming, by standing, abuse, violence, and leadership. MVP stands for Mentors in Violence Prevention, and we have learned how to show these skills during our learning. Overall, we are confident in showing people what leads up to violent actions and what changes we can make to stop them. We are Mentors in Violence Prevention.”
“Perceptions of the programme from students and staff have been overwhelmingly positive since it began in 2020 and the MYA staff who train the mentors and support schools to implement the programme are highly praised by both students and staff. We are now also seeing evidence of the positive impact programme has, particularly on mentors, in changing attitudes towards violence and willingness to intervene as a bystander in problematic situations.”Nadia Butler, Research Fellow and Liverpool John Moores University and Lead of the MVP Evaluation
To read the full report “Evaluation of the Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) Programme across Merseyside 2021/22” by Nadia Butler, Charlie Wilson, Rebecca Bates, Zara Quigg, go to https://www.ljmu.ac.uk/-/media/phi-reports/pdf/2023-01-evaluation-of-the-mentors-in-violence-prevention-programme.pdf