Preventing violence

Almost all violent crimes are carried out by men. MÄN’s violence targets women and non-binary people, other men and themselves, and is connected to society’s assumptions about what it means to be a man. In our violence prevention work, we use methods that challenge stereotypical assumptions about gender because we know they are more effective for promoting behavioural change.

To be as effective as possible, violence prevention must also take place on multiple levels at once, from the individual to the societal level. That is why MÄN collaborates with schools, municipalities, regions and national authorities across the country to strengthen and consolidate the violence prevention agenda in Sweden. We develop violence-prevention methods, lectures and training programmes, and influence decision-makers to increase the number of initiatives against violence.

Violence prevention work with children and young people

MÄN runs violence-prevention programmes together with children and young people. We meet young people in schools, online and during leisure activities to spread awareness and knowledge of violence, to support independent and critical thinking, and to open up a dialogue and foster reflective discussions.

Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) is a training programme for upper-secondary school students aiming to prevent bullying, violence and harassment. The programme inspires young people to dare to stand up and take action against violence and bullying in their daily lives and to speak out against sexism, racism and homophobia. This way, social norms and peer cultures can change. Within the programme, different scenarios of violence are identified and discussed to see how they could have been prevented.

MVP was created in the US in 1993 by Jackson Katz and broadens the understanding of what violence is, how it occurs and how it can be stopped. MVP introduced the “active bystander” approach, to encourage people to step in when they witness violence. The method also reflects on how stereotypical norms play a role in perpetuating a culture of violence. In the US, MVP has been successfully used in schools, sports clubs and the military. For many years, MÄN has been adapting and developing MVP for the Swedish context and is a leader in Sweden when it comes to development of the method.

MÄN invited Jackson Katz to Sweden in 2018. We asked him why all men should be feminists. Hear his response in the video above.

MÄN has also developed the training manual, Act Together, a development of MVP adapted for younger kids, aged 10–12, and special bystander intervention material for youth centres is in development.

Together with the Swedish Gaming Federation, Sverok, we are currently exploring ways of reaching children with violence preventive interventions in the gaming world. This project is focused on kids under 15 years old and adults who interact with them in schools, during free-time activities or in clubs.

Process management support for Swedish municipalities and regions

MÄN offers Swedish municipalities and regions two different training concepts in violence prevention. The focus is on how an entire municipality can come together to prevent violence among children and adolescents. The programmes last for 1–1.5 years, in order for municipalities and regions to initiate sustainable and structured violence-prevention work that they can continue to run themselves. The overarching goal is a municipality free from violence.

MÄN also coordinates a network of Swedish municipalities and regions with the aim of strengthening the capacity and conditions to conduct systematic and long-term violence prevention. Today, about 20% of Swedish municipalities belong to this network, and MÄN is offering process management support and process management training as part of these efforts.

The work is based on effect-evaluated gender-transformative interventions. It involves training sessions in schools, public campaigns and getting a wide range of municipal actors involved – from preschools, youth organisations and women’s shelters to local police and social services. A series of manuals and toolkits for various age groups have been developed as part of this work.

Work against sexualised violence, harassment and exploitation

Over the years, we have used different forms of urban arts (music, radio, graffiti, film etc.) to reach out to young men on issues of sexualised violence and promotion of sexual consent.

The project FATTA MAN (2014–2017) aimed to make it possible for boys and men to take responsibility for masculinity without sexualised violence. With the motto “It starts with me”, music videos, a podcast, short films and a conversation guide were developed for men about friendship, violence, sex and pornography. Other important elements included engaging boys and men as activists; spotlighting male role models; and participating in shaping the public conversation and pushing for the implementation of a consent law in Sweden (which went through in 2018, read more here).

During 2016–2018, MÄN coordinated IMAGINE, Inspiring Male Action on Gender Equality in Europe, a cross-European project on preventing sexualised harassment and violence. The project united three organisations: MÄN (Sweden), Emancipator (the Netherlands) and The Good Lad Initiative (UK) as well as a number of affiliated organisations across Europe in a joint effort to develop methods and engage young men in combating sexualised violence. The IMAGINE Toolkit was launched in 2018, containing best practice, exercises and lessons learned from the implementation in the three countries.

For MÄN, an important part of violence prevention is combating men’s demand for and perceived entitlement to sex and to others’ bodies. Violence and abuse in pornography and prostitution affect people of all ages and genders, but primarily girls, women and non-binary people. Men account for the majority of all sex buyers, porn consumption and other forms of sexual exploitation. Violence prevention and work to change behaviour is therefore needed for boys and men.

We focus primarily on preventive initiatives with boys and young men by encouraging critical reflection on pornography and the sex industry. We want to give boys and young men the opportunity to discuss and critically reflect on how porn impacts them and their views of sex, intimacy, consent and relationships, and thus contribute to stopping sexualised violence. We also want to support parents and professionals who interact with young people as part of their work. Read more about our work with critical reflection on porn with young men here.

In Sweden and in various international contexts, we are raising the issue of men’s demands and responsibility, highlighting voices and experiences of women, girls and others in the sex industry.

Read more

The IMAGINE Toolkit, English