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Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) Program



Program Summary
The Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) Program is a gender violence prevention and education program based at Northeastern University's Center for the Study of Sport in Society. The multi-racial, mixed gender MVP team is the first large-scale attempt to enlist high school, collegiate and professional athletes in the effort to prevent all forms of men's violence against women. Utilizing a unique bystander approach to gender violence prevention, the MVP Program views student-athletes and student leaders not as potential perpetrators or victims, but as empowered bystanders who can confront abusive peers. Program participants develop leadership skills and learn to mentor and educate younger boys and girls on these issues.

How bad is the Problem of men's violence against women ... 

Bystander Approach to Prevention
By focusing on bystander behavior, MVP reduces the defensiveness and hopelessness that many men and women often feel when discussing men's violence against women. MVP aims to construct a new vision for society that does not equate strength in men with dominance over women.

Founded in 1993, the MVP Program motivates student-athletes and student leaders to play a central role in solving problems that historically have been considered "women's issues:" rape, battering, and sexual harassment. Until recently, few campus or community- based programs have encouraged young men to work actively on these issues.

MVP Initiatives
The expanding MVP Program has developed several initiatives in the attempt to maximize the reach of the powerful MVP message.

  • A Youth Component, sponsored by Sport in Society, reaches school-aged youth and youth workers throughout the country.
  • A College Component, sponsored by the National Consortium for Academics and Sports (NCAS), reaches college students and staff throughout the country.
  • Sport in Society and the NCAS co-sponsor initiatives with professional sports league.

Northeastern University's
716 Columbus Avenue, Suite 161 CP
Boston, MA 02120
Phone: (617) 373-4025
Fax: (617) 373-4566

Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP)

 Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) Female Student-Athlete Project

 The Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) Project was established in 1993 to increase the participation of student-athletes in campus-based efforts to prevent all forms of men's violence against women. The MVP Project works with male and female student-athletes and non-athletes, educating them about their roles and responsibilities, and inspiring them to take active leadership on these critical issues.

 MVP stresses the idea that empowered women have numerous opportunities to interrupt and confront sexist and abusive behavior by men. Traditionally, prevention efforts have focused on how women, as potential victims, can protect themselves or avoid dangerous situations. The MVP Female Student-Athlete Project, by contrast, educates women and girls about their options as bystanders in scenarios involving actual or potential assaults against women.

 The MVP Female Student-Athlete Project works with women's teams at colleges and universities nationwide, as well as with high school girls. The main teaching tool utilized is the MVP Playbook, which consists of a series of realistic scenarios involving sexual assaults, harassment, and abuse of women. The sessions are highly interactive. The multi-racial MVP team of former student-athletes facilitates a dialogue about concrete ways for girls and women to prevent and respond to sexist violence. The MVP trainers encourage participants to share personal experiences and discuss ways that intervention has been or might be effective in preventing rape, battering, and sexual harassment.

 Female student-athletes in the MVP Project provide leadership to their peers on campus and to young people in their communities. MVP trains some of the college female student-athletes to provide direction and role modeling for girls in middle and/or high schools. MVP Program graduates speak about men's violence against women to their peers in forums, classes, and new student orientations. MVP has also developed a community-based speaker's bureau, comprised of former high school and college athletes who are trained to conduct MVP sessions in schools and community organizations.

 The MVP Project is one of the few national programs that utilizes the power of sports and student-athletes in the prevention of gender violence. MVP is part of the national training team for Athletes in Service to America, an Americorps program serving communities in five states. The MVP Project also trains professional staff members of colleges and universities, as well as providing curricular materials, that facilitate local implementation and make the program self-sufficiently active and visible.

 The following is one scenario from the college version of the Female Student-Athlete Playbook: FOUL BALL MVP Project

 You're hanging out on campus with some of your friends. Another friend walks up to your group. As she does, several men sitting near you make "catcalls" and call her a "slut" and a "ho." Your friend is obviously upset, but no one in your group says anything.


 Is it true what they're saying? .....Does that matter? .....Why aren't my friends speaking up?.....If I remain silent, am I endorsing the behavior of these men? .....If I speak up, will they harass me?.....Do I have a responsibility to my friend?.....What should I do?


 1. Keep quiet.

 2. Tell my friends that we should confront the men about their sexist attitudes, but don't pursue it if they are uninterested.

 3. Tell the men their comments are sexist and offend me, and that sexual harassment is a crime.

 4. Say nothing now. Later talk to my friends about how we can confront sexism and harassment.

 5. Personal Option:

 The Playbook scenarios are designed to initiate discussion and to formulate options on how to confront sexual harassment, rape, and battering.

 For more information contact: Michelle King, MVP Project Coordinator Northeastern University Center for the Study of Sport in Society

The MVP Program is flexible enough to fit individual scheduling needs. For the program to be most effective for students, MVP recommends a minimum of 14 hours of gender violence prevention training divided in the following manner:

  • A minimum initial training of 8-10 hours divided into 1 1/2­ 2 hour sessions.
  • An additional 4-6 hours of advanced "train-the- trainer" sessions to prepare participants to facilitate the MVP curriculum with younger students in their school or community.
  • No more than 3 weeks between training sessions.
  • Both mixed gender (males and females together) and single gender (males and females separate) trainings for co-educational settings.
  • A typical training sequence often includes a mixed gender introductory session, three single gender sessions, and a mixed-gender concluding session.

MVP Trainings
The MVP Program, composed of male and female former professional and college student-athletes, provides a range of gender violence prevention and education services for high schools, colleges, professional sports teams and community groups, including:

  • Multiple trainings sessions for high school and college leadership groups and sports teams.
  • Training sessions for high school and college teachers, coaches and administrators, as well as, community-based youth workers.
  • Training sessions for campus-based professionals and select student leaders who seek to facilitate the MVP curriculum.
  • Typically, the racially-diverse MVP staff provides both mixed-gender and single gender sessions. Both interactive sessions consist of awareness-raising activities and scenarios that utilize the program's key teaching tool, the MVP Playbook.

The MVP Playbook
The MVP Playbook consists of a series of real-life school and social scenarios ranging from sexual harassment to a potential rape involving alcohol. During interactive sessions, the MVP staff uses the Playbook to spark discussions that convey concrete options for non-abusive men and empowered women to interrupt, confront, and prevent violence by their friends, peers, or teammates.

The MVP Supplemental Exercise and Curriculum Guide
In addition to the MVP Playbook, the MVP Program utilizes a number of awareness raising exercises to stimulate an interactive dialogue. Many of these exercises use examples from popular culture, such as movies, music videos, and television to illustrate the socio-cultural influences on the societal epidemic of men's violence against women. Typically, the racially-diverse MVP staff provides both mixed-gender and single gender sessions. Both interactive sessions consist of awareness-raising activities and scenarios that utilize the program's key teaching tool, the MVP Playbook.

Goals for 2000
The MVP Program seeks to reduce the level of men's violence against women by:

  • Raising Awareness
  • Opening Dialogue
  • Challenging Thinking
  • Inspiring Leadership

Year in Review
In 1998-99, MVP staff members presented to students at 25 high schools and 2 middle schools across Massachusetts and 26 colleges both within the state and across the country. Additionally, MVP has worked with numerous youth and community groups and presented at a wide variety of conferences.

Since 1993, MVP has worked with over 24,000 people.

MVP staff has presented to students from 75-80 high schools and middle schools in Massachusetts and 58 colleges and universities in Massachusetts and throughout the country, as well as making numerous presentations at professional conferences and for youth and community groups.

Funded in part by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the MVP Program motivates men and women to work together in preventing men's violence against women.


Jackson Katz is the founder and director of MVP Strategies, an organization that provides gender violence prevention training and materials to U.S. colleges, high schools, law enforcement and military services, agencies, community organizations, and small and large corporations. http://www.jacksonkatz.com/ 


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