Mentors in Violence Prevention Convene in Boston

Mentors in Violence Prevention Convene in Boston

(Pictured from left: Don McPherson; Jackson Katz; Daryl Fort; Byron Hurt; Jeff O'Brien; Duane de Four)

Last week, more than two hundred people – educators, experts, advocates, and others – convened in Boston to attend the first-ever conference dedicated solely to boosting efforts that motivate people to be “positive bystanders” in preventing domestic violence, sexual assault, and bullying. "Bystander Intervention: From its roots to the road ahead,” featured keynote speakers from the social justice, education, government, and sports fields.

A positive bystander is someone who does more than stand by when hearing a sexist joke or witnessing abuse for example. They do more than stand by in the face of adversity; they stand up for what is sometimes not the popular thing to do. Ways to cultivate this courage and foster a supportive environment of strength for such positive responses were discussed in various forms.

A series of panels and breakout discussions allowed attendees to delve further into topics ranging from using new media and developing cross campus initiatives, to exploring race and privilege and implementing programs with youth. Debby Tucker of the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence in Austin, TX and Jackson Katz, founder of Mentors in Violence Prevention, set the stage on the opening day (Thursday, May 31) by challenging everyone to advance their thinking and practice in the field. With video highlights of programs and initiatives from around the world shown throughout the two days, spotlights on filmmaker Byron Hurt and Professor Ron Slaby of Harvard University, in particular, provided critical insight and inspiration on promising practices.

Other notable speakers were Graham Goulden, chief inspector of the Scotland National Anti-Violence Campaign; Peter Roby, director of athletics and recreation for Northeastern University; and Ben Cherington, general manager of the Boston Red Sox. Futures’ program, Coaching Boys into Men, which utilizes the bystander intervention approach, was also featured at the event.

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