Serving as a Role Model and Mentor
Providing role models and mentors can be a vital and effective way of reaching men and boys with the violence prevention message. This strategy includes encouraging the men and boys you’re working with to be role models and mentors for those around them or to engage in community outreach in that capacity. It can also involve getting respected figures to help raise awareness in your community. For some examples of how men can be role models and mentors see the Family Violence Prevention Fund’s public education campaign, Coaching Boys into Men.
Whether a man is a mentor or a role model depends on his relationship with other men and boys in his life. Role models set examples for those around them of positive behaviors and attitudes toward women and girls. They display respectful and nonviolent options through their actions. Mentors can be role models as well, but they also play a leading role in others’ lives. They are the caretakers, teachers, coaches, bosses, and others who help to guide men and boys toward becoming nonviolent men.
Many organizations working with men use role models to reach their audience. Some campaigns enlist celebrities and sports heroes for their posters and outreach materials, while others depict ordinary men collectively voicing their concerns about violence against women.
There are four reasons this strategy is effective. First, men who take action against gender-based violence are good roles models simply because they set an example that shows other men and boys that violence is not acceptable.
Second, and perhaps more important, male heroes, celebrities, and other respected figures are chosen because they are already role models: many men identify with them and wish to emulate them, and the hope is that this emulation will extend to the role models’ intolerance of violence against women.
Third, using male role models to convey messages to men is effective because men seek the approval of other men, at once identifying with them and competing against them. If such efforts can shift collective perceptions of masculine norms, individual behaviors may also shift to match the revised perceptions.
Fourth, whether we like it or not, men are granted greater authority than women in our culture, so it is probably true that men will pay more attention to men than to women. We may want men to listen to women’s voices and hear their stories, but it may be more effective to continue to use men to send messages about ending gender-based violence.
- Peer pressure is a powerful force in adolescent culture. How does it function among adults?
- How does an adult man’s peer culture affect whether he speaks out about sexism and men’s violence toward women?
Join the discussion about recommended work with role models and mentors for men and boys.
Read what others have said about the effect of role models and mentors on men and boys.
“’The Man’ Becomes a Real Man” Don McPherson, a former professional football player, speaks out on the need for male role models in this interview.
High school coach Jim Rear talks about what it means to be a mentor and help young men who are touched by violence.
Instituto PROMUNDO´s Guy to Guy Project: Engaging young men in violence prevention and in sexual and reproductive health shows how PROMUNDO engages young men from low-income areas of Rio de Janeiro as change agents in efforts to prevent gender-based violence and promote sexual and reproductive health.
The Mentors in Violence Prevention Model encourages young men and women from all socioeconomic, racial, and ethnic backgrounds to take leadership roles in preventing violence and bullying in their schools and communities.
Coaching Boys into Men, the Family Violence Prevention Fund’s Web site on how to be a role model for young men.
Tough Talk: What Boys Need to Know About Relationship Abuse, a manual from the Founding Fathers Campaign for helping men talk to boys about violence.
Go to the next section to read how men can work as an ally.
Last modified 2004-10-28 11:57 PM