As a longtime fan of the organization Men Can Stop Rape, I was cheered to read this story about its youth development program last week. The Men of Strength Club (MOST, for short) provides young men with a structured and supportive space to connect with peers and build individualized definitions of masculinity that promote healthy relationships.
In ten years, Men Can Stop Rape’s Executive Director Neil Irvin grew the MOST Club from one school in Washington, DC to over 100 locations in ten states throughout the country: California, DC, Florida, Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and South Carolina. Kedrick Griffin facilitates the MOST Club with young men in Washington, DC and conducts trainings nationwide.
Griffin facilitates two MOST club meetings a day at nine different DCPS schools. Every week, he spends less than an hour with each group. But that’s enough time, he hopes, to challenge traditional masculinity and push his young charges to respect their female peers.
Griffin attracts middle- and high-school boys with the promise of free pizza and movie tickets. Conversations center around their personal lives, homework and sports accomplishments at first, but eventually Griffin leads the young men in discussions of street harassment, dating violence and what it means to be a “real man.”
In 2003 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified MOST Club as one of the top four gender violence prevention programs in the country. Every school should host a program like this. Society has targeted girls and women with rape and violence “prevention tips” for too long to no avail. Educating boys and men is the only way to reduce male violence against women and girls. The MOST Club is definitely doing it right.