Due to domestic violence being a gendered crime and problem, work must be done with men and boys to teach them how to become allies to women and girls
Men of CODE is a prevention education program for young males involved in athletics that enlists them as proactive participants to prevent and address intimate partner violence. Men of CODE stands for Men of Character, who own their behavior and are dedicated to leading by example. Men of CODE works with young men in established male settings, such as athletic teams, that are often incubators for unhealthy masculinity and behaviors that inform a culture of violence. Program participants explore unhealthy masculinity and oppression; how they lead to intimate partner and sexual violence; bystander intervention including discussions about consent; and how to help someone in an abusive relationship.
By providing education and training about dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and bystander intervention, Men of CODE assumes accountability for cultivating a generation of young men who can clearly identify the symptoms, change the culture, and protect their peers. After six-week classroom instruction, students are then empowered to utilize what they have learned through mentorship and develop new ways to engage their peers about violence against women and girls. Additional components are utilized throughout the year to sustain learning opportunities. Men of CODE prepares young men to make good positive decisions and lead healthy lives while embracing manhood without detriment to themselves, their peers, women, girls, and the community as a whole. Men of CODE has been recognized by Vice President Joe Biden as a national model prevention program and has been featured on ESPN’s Outside the Lines.
Currently the Men of CODE Program exists at Friendship Collegiate High School, Ballou Senior High School, and Walter Johnson High School. In 2018 and into the future we hope to bring Men of CODE to additional high schools in the DC metropolitan area.
Over the course of the Men of CODE program, we aim to address these important topics, as well as any other topics that the students request for us to focus on.
- Dating Violence
- Personal Responsibility
- Mental Health
After the 6-week summer session:
- 88% of the students disagreed that people deserve to be hit by their partners.
- 71% of the students believe that it is not okay for someone to get their partner drunk just to have sex with them.
- 79% of the students believed that swearing or yelling at their partner is not justified when angry.
- 66% of the students believed if one of their friends was committing an act of domestic violence, it was their responsibility to address it.
- 71% of the students disagreed that a person should always do what their partner tells them to do.
Research states that violent behavior often begins to develop in girls and boys between the ages of 12 and 18 and awareness and prevention can help overcome unhealthy learned behaviors as well as prevent escalated violence. To directly attack the problem, Becky’s Fund created the Men of CODE program to end violence through prevention and education, working in the space of athletics to empower and engage male athletes and coaches to lead by example to help end domestic violence.
The Men of CODE program began in the summer of 2013 at Friendship Collegiate High School in Southeast Washington, D.C. through a Department of Justice grant, complementing the matching mission and purpose of the school in order to teach the young men about leadership and integrity on and off the field. Students begin the program by going through a 6 week summer program where they learn the foundations of the course, including topics such a: what it means to be a leader, exploring masculinity, dating violence and healthy relationships, consent vs. sexual violence, and bystander intervention. Becky’s Fund trains the Coaches to be able to handle any incidents or concerns that arise related to unhealthy relationships and works with the administration to have a policy in place to make sure the safety of students at the school is held as a priority. Throughout the 1 year program, students learn about education on Domestic, Sexual, and Dating Violence, stalking and bystander intervention, leadership, as well as receive support through mentorship on real life issues such as financial literacy, life after sports, how to talk to the media, and how to plan for the future. Participants of Men of CODE gain the skills to become leaders in their communities, helping create positive environments using their newly acquired knowledge about creating and maintaining healthy relationships, as well as recognizing the warning signs of abusive behavior and knowing what to do if an unhealthy situation arises.