Mentors in Violence Prevention

The Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) Strategies program was developed in the early 1990s by Jackson Katz and colleagues at Northeastern University's Center for the Study of Sports in Society. MVP is based on a peer leadership model that focuses on the role of the bystander as a community-level strategy to violence prevention. The model seeks to empower those who might otherwise be silent observers to situations where bullying, gender-based violence and discrimination is unfolding. MVP uses a social norms orientation focusing on the idea of a "bystander" as a tool to know what to do, and as an approach to understanding that being a bystander means intervening in all cases where unhealthy norms are emerging through casual conversations with peers.

MVP has been implemented in high school settings, college settings, the U.S. military, and within professional sports. In Iowa, the Patricia A Tomson Center for Violence Prevention (PATCVP) is the leading state trainer for MVP Strategies. PATCVP has trained over 70 secondary schools and 30 colleges and universities across the state since 2012.Image removed.


Utilizing a systemic, multi-layered approach to prevention, the MVP program has three primary goals:

  • To increase awareness and understanding of the types of abuse, bullying and discrimination young adults face.

  • To discuss the socialization and messages young adults are exposed to in relation to abuse, bullying and discrimination.

  • To inspire leadership by empowering bystanders to confront and challenge norms that support abusive, bullying and discriminatory behaviors.

MVP Mentors

The MVP model utilizes trained student leaders (MVP mentors) and supportive adults to guide discussions and problem-solving activities around scenarios that depict harassment, bullying and other forms of gender violence. The MVP Playbook contains concrete tools and options for confronting, interrupting and preventing violence which are discussed in small group settings or classes. No specific option is promoted. Rather, the goal is to promote discussion of various safe, non-violent options that could be used when confronting bullying, harassment or abuse.       

The MVP model has been evaluated in multiple high schools throughout the state of Iowa and been shown to:

  • Increase students’ awareness of bullying and abusive behaviors among peers and friends.
  • Increase students’ problem-solving skills, knowledge and understanding of the bystander approach to preventing bullying and gender violence among peers and friends.
  • Increase students’ attitudes and their perceptions of other peers’ and friends’ attitudes with respect to interfering and preventing bullying and violence behaviors.
  • Decrease incidents of bullying and gender violence among student populations.