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The Men of Strength Club (MOST) provides young men with a structured and supportive space to build definitions of masculinity that promote healthy relationships.
The federal government estimates that one in five women will be raped in their lifetime — and a group of young men in city schools are hoping to change that.
They’re part of the an afterschool program called Men of Strength (MOST) that teaches boys they should be allies for girls and that violence is inexcusable.
Cherno Barry, an eighth grader at Junior High School 217 in Briarwood, Queens, said the club has taught him to treat all girls like he treats his mother.
“No one is beneath another person,” he said.
Neil Irvin, the executive director of Men Can Stop Rape, the Washington based organization behind the program, said the boys who take part can become protectors in their communities.
“We discuss how traditional masculinity contributes to sexual assault and other forms of men's violence against women,” he said.
There are MOST clubs in three city schools and others scattered across the nation.
Once a week, the kids and group leaders talk frankly about what it means to get a woman’s consent, sexual health and responsibility.
Parents are also involved.
“It’s an education for them too,” said Irwin. “They start to realize that they’ve passed these stereotypes onto the next generation without meaning to.”
Stephen Bradshaw a teacher and club facilitator at JHS 217, said he’s seen first-hand how the program opens eyes among his 27 members.
“The club gives kids a chance to check in with each other talk about the issues that concern them,” he said. And he can serve as a father figure for those who don’t have a male rodel model in their life.
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