Qualitative Evaluation of the Mentors in Violence Prevention Pilot in Scottish High Schools

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Abstract

Objective: The Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) program originated in the United States and adopts a bystander approach to gender-based violence prevention by harnessing group processes using a peer-learning model. This paper presents the first qualitative evaluation, within a European context, of a pilot application of MVP within a Scottish high school setting. Method: The evaluation comprises a series of interviews and focus groups with school staff, and pupils (‘mentors’ and ‘mentees’) at 3 participating schools. The study’s research purposes are to explore (a) experiences of participating in MVP, (b) participants’ perceived impact of MVP (with regards attitudinal and behavioral change with a particular emphasis on social norms), and (c) participants’ opinions on the relevance and sustainability of MVP. Results: All 3 categories of participant reported generally positive experiences of MVP in terms of recruitment, training, and implementation. The peer-learning model was particularly useful in engaging mentees, and facilitating support networks outside the classroom. Moreover, positive attitudinal and behavioral change regarding gender-based violence was reported by all 3 participant categories, but was particularly prevalent among mentors. However, participants highlighted the importance of ensuring MVP is culturally relevant, and the need for integration into school life to ensure its sustainability. Conclusions: An initial qualitative analysis of MVP within Scottish High Schools suggests the peer-learning program was experienced positively, with self-reported impact on gender-based violence attitudes and behaviors (including bystander intervention). A number of recommendations have been made to inform future implementation of MVP, and the need for robust, ongoing evaluation.

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