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MENTORS IN VIOLENCE PREVENTION


This term, the Pupil Support team have launched its Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) programme. Trained members of staff have been delivering hard-hitting sessions on topics such as types of abuse, gender stereotyping, and alcohol and consent with the Sixth Form pupils.

MVP is a concept that was developed in the USA to reduce violent crime by changing attitudes at a much lower level, using what is called the ‘bystander approach’. This means that the programme aims to empower bystanders with the skills and confidence to challenge negative behaviour and attitudes without ever putting themselves in harm’s way.

Every week, the LVI Mentors have been training with Mr Freddie Main to deliver these sessions to the Third Form pupils in their Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) classes and have already delivered the first two with great success. The current III Form boys have been brilliant and engaged really well with the hard hitting topics of different types of abuse and gender stereotyping.

How many school children have stood by and watched something that they know to be wrong happen, be it in school, with family or anywhere else?

One of the biggest barriers to challenging negative behaviour can be fear of the attention being turned to oneself, yet the fact remains that most other people feel the same way and want to have the confidence to challenge the negative behaviour they see around them, be it verbal, emotional or physical abuse.

This year’s mentors are: Dean A, John-Ross C, Lachlan G, Dan G, Sean H, Florian H, Scott H, Charlie J and Stuart R.

Next year, the MVP leadership programme will expand and the current V Form will have the opportunity to become MVP mentors, where they will really develop their presentation skills, leadership skills, and play a major role in setting the positive standard for attitudes and behaviours at Merchiston and beyond by delivering sessions to boys in younger year groups.

“The younger pupils look up to their heroes in the upper school, so it makes perfect sense for them to be delivering these really important messages that will shape their attitudes towards issues such as bullying and other forms of abuse. I have been massively impressed with the Mentors so far and their enthusiasm to learn, not only with the subject content, but with the delivery of the sessions; they are effectively doing teacher training!

The programme is in its infancy, yet plans are already in place to expand it next year and the school is excited with the huge potential it has to further embed positive messages, understanding and ethos within its pupil body.” Mr Main, Assistant Head Pupil Support, Head of PSHE, Teacher of Design and Technology.

See what some of our MVP Mentors have to say about this new programme at Merchiston:

“The MVP programme is a new initiative at Merchiston and a few of us were given the opportunity to be the first MVP mentors at the School. What this means is that we would have the chance to be taught further PSHE lessons on current topics such as stereotyping, and we would then relay these messages through teaching our own lessons to junior boys in the Third Form. So far, these have been very enjoyable as they have challenged me, personally, to develop my leadership skills as well as my presentation skills while delivering lessons. On top of this, it has given me the chance to learn more about these topical subjects. I would highly recommend the MVP programme to anyone who is considering getting involved with it.” Lachlan G

“I feel that the MVP programme can benefit other schools because it is a way of teaching young boys and girls the importance of standing up for themselves and others around them whilst also keeping themselves safe. By having Lower Sixth students teach Third Form pupils about these sensitive subjects, they can form a one on one relationship with their potential prefects when they are in Fourth Form. This means it will be easier for them to talk to someone if anything is bothering them. As an MVP mentor, we are expected to teach Third Form students about standing up for themselves, bullying, importance of bystanders and gender roles. MVP mentors also have a role in that if anyone needs someone to talk to about something sensitive and do not want to talk to a teacher or adult, they can speak to an MVP mentor as we relate closer to them.” Sean H

“I fell that the MVP programme has benefitted my hugely and has been very enjoyable, we started off by having four training sessions with Mr Main, then presenting to the younger boys in the Third Form. The Mentors in Violence Preventions programme is something that has been put in place by the School to try and promote boys knowledge on the topic of standing up to violence and also knowing how to counter act this, overall I have found this very rewarding in the teaching of the younger boys and finding out more about the subjects.” Dan G

“I think the MVP programme benefits the Third Form because they learn early on in their Merchiston Journey how to react to bullying and that it is not fine to do nothing about bullying. We try to break down the ‘bystander’ approach to its basics and make it understandable for them. They also learn that every person has a unique personality and that they should accept the diversity. I really enjoy playing a mentor role for the younger peers.” Florian H

“The MVP programme, in my opinion, is great for young children in schools. We discuss topics that aren’t normally talked about by teachers or even parents. The lessons they learn in the MVP sessions will be of serious good use to them later in life and give them the tools required to maturely and safely deal with situations that even many adults would struggle to deal with. The environment created in the sessions also allows for free expression from the youngsters without the worry of being punished for talking about subjects that are quite taboo for them, such as racial or sexual violence. This is due to the people holding the session being of ‘big brother’ age in that golden in-between stage between childhood and adulthood. As an MVP mentor, I am expected to be a source of advice and comfort to ask or even just talk about anything. It is our job to be approachable and patient with them whenever they need us.” Dean A

“I think that the whole concept of starting a programme that’s purpose is to take action on the prevention of bullying and violence in our everyday lives is a fantastic idea. Hopefully having more people informed of the dangers that can occur will lower the incidences of them happening.” Charles J

For more details about the MVP Programme, please click here.
Published: November 15 2017

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