A new pilot programme ‘Reducing Sexism and Violence Program – Middle School Program’ was implemented as part of a recent study conducted in the United States, with the aim to explore if boys’ attitude towards violence against women they are in a relationship with could be improved by understanding and focusing on the positive aspects of masculinity. The programme was developed by the nonprofit “Maine Boys to Men” and taught eighth-grade boys across four schools in weekly classroom-based workshops over four months. The participants learned about empathy, gender-based violence, healthy relationships, etc.
The findings from the programme showed that the pilot program was highly accepted from middle school boys, improved attitudes related to the use of coercion and violence in relationships and changed beliefs that violence, including harassment and sexual and dating violence, was acceptable.
According to Victoria Banyard, lead author, and professor at Rutgers University of New Brunswick’s School of Social Work, USA: “by focusing on positive expressions of masculinity, such as the ability to be respectful in relationships, this program helps boys find positive ways to prevent violence and to cope with violence to which they may already have been exposed.”