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Mentors in Violence Prevention


The STOP School Violence Act makes critical funding available to school districts, states and tribes to implement evidence-based early-intervention school programs to prevent violence before a weapon ever enters a school environment. The STOP Grant offered by the Patricia A. Tomson Center for Violence Prevention at UNI is designed to improve K-12 school security by providing students and teachers with the tools they need to recognize, respond quickly to, and help prevent acts of violence and ensure a positive school climate through the Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) program.

The program requires training at multiple levels throughout the district, beginning with a team of school administrators, who will be trained on violence prevention and youth mental health first aid. Building leadership teams, consisting of administrators, teachers, and counselors, are then trained to lead the program within their building. Finally, a team of MVP Student Mentors will be chosen in each building to be trained on the MVP Model for violence prevention.

The MVP model empowers students to prevent violence by teaching skills, confidence and knowledge necessary to challenge and confront social norms that support bullying and all forms of gender violence. “One of the aims of the MVP program is to help students of all backgrounds develop the skills to become leaders and mentors to others on the issues of violence prevention and increasing empathy,” says Ken Morris, Chief Diversity Officer for the Ankeny School District.

The MVP Student Mentors will develop a range of options for intervention in specific situations and scenarios that work to foster a peer culture that motivates everyone to get involved to create a climate in which harmful and abusive attitudes, beliefs and behaviors are seen as unacceptable, uncool and unwelcome. After thorough training, MVP Student Mentors will then guide discussions and activities around scenarios that depict harassment, bullying, and other forms of violence with younger peers for a comprehensive, student driven approach to stopping violence.

The STOP School Violence and Prevention Grant is a partnership with Iowa Department of Education and the Patricia A. Tomson Center for Violence Prevention at the University of Northern Iowa.