A NEW anti-bullying drive is to kick off in West Dunbartonshire schools.

The Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) Programme aims to tackle gender-based violence and abusive behaviour with what is described as a “bystander approach”.

All secondary schools in the local authority will set up an MVP School Mentor Support Team that is described in a council press release as “developing a positive and inclusive culture to proactively prevent and challenge all types of bullying and abusive behaviour”.

Pupils will be trained as peer mentors to develop MVP sessions for younger pupils on issues such as online bullying, domestic abuse, sharing of images and consent.

MVP Scotland is led by Education Scotland, working with the Violence Reduction Unit, the Scottish Government and councils.

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The local authority’s educational services department is working with their health and social care partnership, Working4U, Active Schools and Police Scotland.

Councillor Karen Conaghan, convener of educational services, said: “I am pleased to see this programme being introduced in our schools, as educating our young people about positive relationships and the types of behaviour which are acceptable is vitally important. Showing that their individual actions can make a difference to their surroundings is an important lesson too, and one that will be useful well beyond their school years.”

Councillor Ian Dickson, vice convener, added: “Being taught by older peers about these harmful behaviours, as well as exploring with them how to react to bullying or abuse, means there will be a shared outlook, with each pupil playing their own part.”

“These are essential life lessons for anyone, but especially important for our young people.”