Young people lead way on violence prevention in schools

As part of its efforts to tackle bullying and equip young people with awareness which can help to reduce violent incidents more generally, Aberdeenshire Council is offering access to a Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) programme.

Pupils from Ellon, The Gordon Schools, Kemnay and Westhill academies have been given the chance to join in this session following the success of the programme at Aboyne, Alford, Banff, Mearns, Mintlaw, Peterhead, Portlethen and Turriff during the last few years. 12 secondary schools are now offering pupils the chance to participate in the scheme alongside staff from their respective schools. It offers an approach to tackling gender-based violence and bullying by training young people to speak out against all forms of violent and abusive behavior and promote a positive school environment.

Senior pupils volunteer to take part in the training and then deliver workshops for their younger peers. Role play enables the young people to construct realistic scenarios in response to incidents of abuse and they are provided with a range of safe options which can prevent situations from escalating.

Ethan Thomson, an S6 pupil from Kemnay Academy who has been taking part since August, explained: “It’s a really popular way for senior pupils to work on their leadership skills. Many younger pupils who have just made the transition to secondary school may not have the knowledge or confidence to cope in different situations but the MVP programme helps us to reach out and support them. I’ve been involved in presenting talks to younger pupils alongside one of my friends and I think it has been really beneficial for us as well as them.”

Director of Education and Children’s Services Laurence Findlay added: “Speaking out about rape, gender-based violence, sexual harassment, bullying and all other forms of violent or abusive behavior is not easy. Equipping young people with the skills to do this – even just to have an open conversation among peers about such a difficult topic – is a really important aspect of promoting as much of an accepting, respectful environment within our schools (and beyond) as we can.

“It’s also great to hear from older pupils who have been mentoring their younger peers just how much they are gaining from it and enjoying it. Well done to Ethan and all those across Aberdeenshire who have been leading the way so far.”