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November 03, 2014

The University of Northern Iowa's Center for Violence Prevention (CVP)  is gaining national attention for its work with Iowa high schools, community colleges and universities to train Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP). The program focuses on training bystanders on how to recognize bullying, harassment or abuse and how to safely intervene. Now recognized as a leader in the field, the CVP is hosting a sold-out training session at a Campus Safety Summit in Overland Park, Kansas, next month.

Alan Heisterkamp, director of the Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) Leadership Institute at UNI's Center for Violence Prevention (CVP)"Focusing on young men and women not as potential perpetrators or victims, but as empowered bystanders can motivate them to play a central role in solving problems that have historically been considered 'women's issues' - rape, relationship abuse, sexual assault and harassment."--Alan Heisterkamp, director of the Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) Leadership Institute at UNI's Center for Violence Prevention (CVP).

To date, the CVP has implemented MVP training at nearly 30 Iowa high schools, community colleges and universities as well as worked with campus ROTC cadets at UNI, Iowa State University, the University of Iowa and the University of Dubuque. Following the training at Sioux City North High School, upperclassmen are now paired with groups of incoming freshmen to discuss drinking, dating and what constitutes sexual assault. Senior Xavier Scarlett, a student athlete, says he challenges the freshmen to figure out what to do when a friend wants to "hook up" with a girl who's had too much to drink.

"Do I let them just leave? Or do I grab him, or do I grab her? Or do I get some friends? If I say something, then will my friend judge me?"--NPR news

Heisterkamp says students are the most successful in changing peer attitudes, which is why the MVP Institute is working to develop a core group of bystander trainers across the state. "This will hopefully lead to safer high schools, community colleges and university campuses in Iowa."

On Thursday, Nov. 6, the CVP is hosting a one-day workshop on bystander education for approximately 120 school administrators, teachers, counselors and students. The event on the UNI campus is co-sponsored by UNI's Center for Educational Transformation and the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Iowa schools that have received MVP training from UNI's Center for Violence Prevention:

Colleges and UniversitiesHigh Schools
Upper Iowa UniversitySioux City North High
St. Ambrose UniversitySioux City West High
Grinnell CollegeSioux City East High
Simpson CollegeSergeant Bluff-Luton
Grand View UniversityMarcus-Meriden-Cleghorn
Iowa State UniversityWaterloo East High (2010-2012)
University of IowaSouth Hardin
University of Northern IowaUnion Community Schools
Kirkwood Community CollegeCedar Falls
Indian Hills Community CollegeDavenport Central
Drake UniversityMarshalltown
William Penn UniversityLisbon
Des Moines Area Community CollegeNorthwood-Kensett
Marshalltown Community CollegeRiceville