MAAV works in partnership with the Melrose Public Schools to provide a range of educational and prevention programs for youth. At the middle school level, our Healthy Relationships Program addresses teen dating violence and healthy relationships. Also at the middle school, our Peer Mentoring Program matches 6th graders with trained high school students for ongoing guidance and support. At the high school level, a dynamic group of peer leaders, the Student Action Board, leads programs to prevent teen dating violence and sexual assault with peers and younger students.
Other programs include:
- The Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) Program is utilized with student leaders at Melrose High School, coaches and parents. This Northeastern University leadership program empowers bystanders to make a difference.
- The Student Action Board facilitates workshops on healthy relationships, alcohol and consent, and gender roles with 9th graders in Freshmen Seminar classes at Melrose High School.
- Project Leadership, a club open to all Melrose High School students, trains members on bullying prevention. These students then lead bullying prevention workshops with students at MVMMS.
- Training on bullying prevention is provided as part of the Jr. Police Academy sponsored by the Melrose Police Department. Students in grades 4-6 learn about bullying and how “just one act by just one person” can make a difference.
- Poster campaigns which feature students and staff sharing messages in their own words about healthy and unhealthy relationships, and that “bystanders don’t stand by.”
- The Escalation Workshop on teen dating abuse, designed by the One Love Foundation, is presented to the senior class and parents in the spring.
Past programs have included:
- Sponsoring plays on teen dating violence at the middle and high school level including “Remote Control” and “The Yellow Dress” produced by Deana’s Educational Theater.
- MAAV developed an educational theater group at the 8th grade level called “STAR’s” (Students Teaching Acceptance & Respect). The students developed skits for elementary age children which demonstrated indirect as well as direct forms of bullying, and encouraged bystanders to join together to stand up to bullying.
- MAAV was instrumental in launching a Peer Mediation Program at Melrose High School in 2000.
- In 2004, MAAV brought Red Sox player Gabe Kapler and his wife, Lisa Kapler, to Melrose High School to speak to the senior class about teen dating violence.
- The “Dear Lisa” Assembly featured Tom Santoro, who shared the story of his daughter’s tragic death at the hands of her ex-boyfriend.
- Assembly on raising awareness about sexual assault for seniors featuring a survivor of sexual assault.
- Sponsored #BeTheChange Youth Leadership Summit in 2016.
Research shows that abuse in relationships often begins in adolescence and that 1 in 4 teens will experience violence in their relationships. 40% of teens age 14-17 report knowing someone their age who has been hit or beaten by a partner.
As part of the program, students participate in interactive activities, and hear directly from a survivor of teen dating violence. Every student receives a palm card of hotline numbers just for teens.
As part of the Healthy Relationships program at MVMMS, all of the 8th graders complete an evaluation of the course. In 2019, 98 percent of students reported that they could identify different types of abuse and 93 percent of students reported that they knew the ingredients of a healthy relationship.
Student Action Board
The Student Advisory Board (SAB) was established at Melrose High School in 1998. The original purpose of the SAB was for students to give input into MAAV’s prevention programs. In 2003, the name was changed to the Student Action Board to better reflect the dynamic nature of the group. The SAB still advises the MAAV Board, but also plans and implements its own projects in the schools and community. Luckily, it can still be referred to as the SAB!
Over the years the SAB has developed many programs to address teen dating violence and sexual assault. In 2003, SAB member Amanda Lanza produced a video on sexual assault that won numerous awards among student filmmakers. The video, “Every Two Minutes” was updated in 2008 by SAB member Mark McCarthy, and then again in 2013, and can be viewed here.
In 2009, the SAB was awarded the Jackson Katz Award for Social Justice by Sports in Society at Northeastern University, honoring their work in the areas of teen dating violence and sexual assault prevention. A banner hangs proudly at Melrose High School!
In recent years, the SAB has been doing presentations for the 9th grade at Melrose High School during their freshmen seminars. SAB members lead students in interactive discussions on topics such as alcohol and consent, sexual harassment, and more.
In 2015, the SAB launched a new club open to all Melrose High School called “Students Against Violence.” The club discussed issues related to healthy and abusive teen relationships, and worked on projects to educate their peers, such as poster campaigns and Public Service Announcements.