That’s all it takes to defuse a bullying incident.
That was one of the important takeaways from a “Sweethearts and Heroes” presentation to CVA students and faculty. Ultimate Fighting Championship athlete and college wrestling All-American Tom Murphy delivered a straightforward message and practical ways to put an end to bullying.
Murphy had contacted CVA principal Dick Keeler following the tragic loss of a CVA student last winter. With support of the student’s family, Keeler approved the Apr. 3 assembly.
Murphy began with a history of the word “bully.” In the 16th Century, “bully” meant “sweetheart” and evolved to describe someone who pushed you to be your best. Over time, it devolved to identify someone who routinely uses power or position to repeatedly and intentionally intimidate others.
He introduced five “Bully Buttons” to better understand and respond to bullying:
- Perspective—When it comes to bullying, there are three groups of people: the bullies, the bullied and the bystanders. Few of us know what goes on in others’ lives that causes them to behave the way they do.
- H.O.P.E.—Hold On Possibilities Exist. People give up on life when they don’t have hope.
Sweethearts—Everyone has the ability to be that person who makes a difference. Murphy introduced his friend Rick Yarosh, a retired U.S. Army sergeant who was severely injured when a homemade bomb exploded under his vehicle in Iraq. Yarosh’s hands were crippled; he lost a leg, and suffered burns over most of his body. He told the story of a little girl who became his sweetheart. Instead of being frightened by his appearance, she told her grandfather that Yarosh was a nice man. Those simple words were a turning point in Yarosh’s life and road to recovery.
- Jump Into Action—Statistics show that acting within 10 seconds can defuse 60 percent of all bullying situations. Murphy offered an ABC plan to effectively intervene.
• A is for Away: Escort the victim away from the situation.
• B is for Buddy: Giving hope can be as simple as joining the victim for lunch or asking for help
with a math problem.
• C is for Confront: Confront the bully or seek a trusted adult to intervene.
- Heroes—Heroes are people who are willing to jump into action. He invited three students onstage to put the ABC’s into practice.
Murphy said schools need to practice to combat bullying the same way they practice fire drills.
“Everyone in here can be a hero,” Murphy said. “You now have the steps to do it.”