Nashville’s athletic community held an event at Bridgestone Arena to focus on the effort to engage and educate men and boys about the problem of violence against women.
The effort was led Thursday by MEND director and former Vanderbilt basketball player, Shan Foster.
Because the athletic population is one of the most visible parts of our culture, the MEND organization also wanted to get the sports community involved in the very important conversation.
Coaches, executives, community leaders, teachers and school officials all gathered downtown for one cause
“This issue of violence against women has really become an epidemic in our country in our state and in our city,” said Foster.
In Nashville alone, a report of domestic violence takes place every 20 minutes. Foster said the efforts of the MEND program were to end violence against women and girls
Vanderbilt University head football coach Derek Mason spoke at the event.
“When you look at what’s happening, its men assaulting women. With that being the case, let’s start with the athletic population because that’s the most visible part of our culture and society,” said Mason.
The recent rape case against former Commodore football players put athletes and assault under the national spotlight. Mason said since he has been coach, they've had no incidents.
“I think what it speaks to, is how do you redefine your cultural. What do you talk about? What’s acceptable behavior? Let’s define it. Let’s talk about it. Let’s become intentional about our actions,” said Mason.
These leaders said the community needs to start with conversation, redefining healthy masculinity and engaging boys early on. Leaders with the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools said they want to do just that.
“If our children are witnessing their mothers and sisters being beaten, they bring that damage and that harm to school. We as a school system want to make sure were acknowledging that, but also working with the right agencies to help address the issue,” said Dr. Tony Majors, chief support services officer for Metro Schools.
This event helped to launch Metro public schools YWCA Men's Club and Girls Inc. partnership. The clubs will be in eight schools next school year to bring more awareness to healthy masculinity and positive relationships.