Pioneering scheme dealing with abuse

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At the start of November, Education Scotland delivered training in a pioneering scheme called Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) which aims to tackle abuse and violence.

The training also involved Community Police Officers in Angus and staff, teachers and partners from Angus Education Department and aims to reduce violence, harassment and bullying by educating students about acceptable behaviour within relationships.

Holly Finlayson, Development Officer – Mentors in Violence Prevention, Education Scotland, said:

“Mentors in Violence Prevention is a positive approach to teaching young people to recognise the signs of unhealthy relationships in others and gives them a range of options to allow them to support and challenge their friends in a safe way.

“Education Scotland has carried out initial training for staff and partners at three pilot schools in Angus, enabling them to train their pupils in the techniques. We believe that the implementation of the programme across Angus will have a positive impact on young people, school culture and the wider communities those schools serve and we will continue to work with our partners to support it.”

MVP (Scotland) was initiated in 2011, with initial pilots in Edinburgh and Inverclyde. Since 2011 MVP has expanded into other Scottish Local authorities and schools. Arbroath Academy, Brechin High and Montrose Academy are the first secondary schools in Tayside to implement the scheme.

Sergeant Debbie Donkin, Safer Communities said: “The project explores all aspects of relationships from insults, bullying, online abuse, domestic abuse, controlling behaviour, sexting to rape.

“With additional support from the Scottish Government, the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit, Education Scotland, Barnardos, Victim Support and Women’s Aid, we hope to encourage a safe and supportive learning environment within a school setting, that will allow young people involved in the scheme to safely discuss a range of issues that they face.

“MVP uses a creative bystander approach to help prevent bullying and gender based violence and seeks to provide students with the skills and confidence to acknowledge and act responsibly to safely intervene or report incidents when they become aware of them. Students are provided with a number of options when they see such behaviour. They will assess a course of action which may result in distracting those involved, speaking to them directly, contacting a teacher or alerting the police.

“MVP aims to promote a safe environment where pupils can engage when they see an incident taking place, promoting a positive, inclusive environment where abusive behaviour is not accepted or ignored.

“This programme will help young people tackle issues that relate to culture, beliefs, attitude and violence, whilst being delivered in a format that assists with the aims of the Curriculum for Excellence. Once embedded within the pilot schools the scheme will be implemented Angus wide.”

Children and Learning Convener Sheena Welsh said: “We’re very pleased to support this important initiative. Behaviour of this type has no place within the school environment, at home, or anywhere else within our society.

“Violence, harassment, bullying and intimidation are prohibitive to learning and can cause long-lasting harm to those who are targeted.

“When it happens within a relationship, it is vital that the victim recognises that abuse and, where possible, is equipped to deal with it directly, or has confidence to reach out in the knowledge that help is there.

“It is also important that all our young people are able to identify the tell-tale signs of such abuse and can act to ensure it is dealt with appropriately.

“We’re pleased that our three schools and their young people are piloting this initiative and look forward to the evaluation of this work.”