Preventing Sexual Violence Through Mentorship

Aug 26, 2014

One in five women are sexually assaulted during college. In the fight to combat that trend, peer-to-peer mentorship can make a difference.

That's according to Alan Heisterkamp. As an administrator at Sioux City West High School, he implemented a peer-to-peer mentorship program called “Mentors in Violence Prevention,” or MVP, to try to combat some of the violence he was seeing in the hallways. Now, he directs a leadership institute at the University of Northern Iowa based on the program.

Kent Martin, a biology teacher at Sioux City West, says he remembers a time when students yelled at each other, pulled hair and fist fought. But today, nine years after MVP was first implemented, things are much different. “I know this sounds extreme, but we’ve decreased our incidences of violence in the school by nearly 80 percent. Attendance is also much better.” Martin attributes that change to the very “raw” conversations students have in the program.

I was in the back of a truck with some guys and someone said, 'hey, look at that slut.' That's not okay. It was one of those times when I recognized that these things do happen. - Tucker Carrell

Tucker Carrell, now a junior at Iowa State University, participated in the MVP program at Sioux City West and says the program taught him how to think about and handle conflict. He says there have been times in his college life where he’s picked up on women’s body language in bars and has stepped in to stop unwanted advances by men.

During this River to River program, host Ben Kieffer talks with Carrell about his experience with the program in high school and also talks with Kristina Weber, a junior at Grinnell College who went through MVP training last fall. Jennifer Jacobsen, Wellness Director at Grinnell College, also joins the conversation. Hear the full interview below.