We all have two fundamental social needs in our lives. One, is to have a purpose, and the other, to be accepted. Cuba-Rushford Middle and High School was fortunate enough to host the anti-bullying presentation called, “Sweethearts and Heroes”, on October 20th. CRCS Middle School principal, Katie Ralston was able to coordinate the presentation for the district. The presenters of the program, Tom Murphy and Rick Yarosh, truly believe in the fact that with everyone on board, we can stop bullying from happening, and allow our social needs to be met, especially in our schools.
A staggering 17,000 students skip school every day because they are bullied. An even bigger problem is that 100,000 students drop out of school, altogether, because they are bullied. This is a huge problem in our schools, and with the help “Sweethearts and Heroes” provided to the district, CRCS is addressing this issue head-on.
Rick and Tom spoke about a number of scenarios students could find themselves in, and how knowledge is power, in the face of a bully or bullying situation. The definition of bullying is as follows: A habitual action, where the bully is an intimidator of smaller or weaker people, and is intentional in his/her behavior. The students and staff were taught that bullying takes on many forms. The forms discussed were: 6% Social Alienation, 18% Indirect Bullying (bullying behind someone’s back), 30% physical bullying, and 46% Verbal Bullying. Tom also talked about Cyber Bullying being extremely problematic as most students have access to the Internet at home. Students think they can hide behind a computer screen, but they can’t. Capabilities to track online behavior are present, and kids are getting into trouble because of inappropriate online decisions.
Rick and Tom presented a plan for bully prevention. The plan outlined five bully buttons, when set into action, could prevent bullying. The five bully buttons are outlined below:
1. Perspective (Change Your Perspective)
2. H.O.P.E. (Hold On Possibilities Exist)
3. SWEETHEARTS (Bringing Hope to the Hopeless)
4. Jump Into Action (Force Yourself to Act Differently Than You Feel)
5. HEROES (Be Someone’s HERO)
Rick Yarosh spoke about H.O.P.E. Rick was involved in a military attack in Iraq, and sustained major injuries because of it. Rick was burned over 60% of his body with 2nd and 3rd degree burns. He had his right leg amputated below his knee; he lost both ears, his nose, multiple fingers and lost most of the function in both hands. He spoke about what it was like to be in an extremely hopeless situation, and how, through a stranger, he was able to regain his hope in life again. He stated that we never know how important our hope in others is. It can mean the difference between life and death. We need to be sweethearts and heroes to others.
Tom Murphy said that even though 95% of the audience reported knowing either a bully or someone who is bullied, only 10% of peers intervene if witnessing a bullying situation. He reminded the audience that it is everyone’s responsibility, including the adults, to make sure they can identify and respond if anyone sees a bullying situation. He also gave three easy letters that correspond to action steps. He called it the ABCs of Bullying.
A- Away (Get the bullied student AWAY from the bully)
B- Buddy (Become his or her BUDDY)
C- Confront the situation (get a teacher, older brother/sister involved)
Tom chose three student volunteers to come up in the front and model the ABC method for the audience, and it had quite and impact on the students, and teachers, alike. It put the words Tom spoke into action.
The Cuba-Rushford School District also hosted “Sweethearts and Heroes” for an evening presentation to the community. Hats off to “Sweethearts and Heroes” for a thought-provoking and powerful message about anti-bullying!
By: Kathleen Agnello, CA BOCES Professional Development and Cuba-Rushford Central School
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