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Module 5: Courage, Bullying, Cover Ups, & Intervention

It is imperative that we deliver this message in a personal manner, from the heart, speaking as a mentor to these young men. It is useful as a teacher to include personal stories of times you measured up and times you fell short. The main points you need to cover are:

Carl Fredrik-Arndt, left, and Peter Jonsson. (Facebook/Linkedin)

  • We will all have times in our lives when we were cowards and times in our lives when we were brave.

  • As you get older and look back on your life, the times you are going to be most proud of are when you stood up for someone who needed help, was being bullied, belittled, or assaulted, particularly when doing so could cost you something.

  • Standing up for someone who is being bullied does not have to be physical. Mostly, it’s just being the person who says “stop it” or “don’t do that”.

  • If you stand up for someone who is being bullied or attacked, that person will remember you for the rest of their life. You will be a hero to that person.

    • Swedish graduate students Carl-Fredrik Arndt and Peter Jonsson were riding their bikes when they saw Stanford varsity swimmer Brock Allen Turner assaulting an unconscious woman outside a fraternity.Jonsson asked what Turner was doing and Turner ran. Jonsson gave chase and tackled Turner and Arndt and Jonsson held Turner until the police came. Later, the woman wrote: “Most importantly, thank you to the two men who saved me, who I have yet to meet.I sleep with two bicycles that I drew taped above my bed to remind myself there are heroes in this story. That we are looking out for one another. To have known all of these people, to have felt their protection and love, is something I will never forget.”

  • If you bully someone, that person will remember you for the rest of their life. It will not be a fond memory.

    • In 2012, in the midst of his campaign for President, the Washington Post reported how during high school, Mitt Romney and other boys “came upon John Lauber [a boy thought to be gay with bleached hair], tackled him and pinned him to the ground. As Lauber, his eyes filling with tears, screamed for help, Romney repeatedly clipped his hair with a pair of scissors.” The New Yorker reported later that “For the five former students who [spoke about the attack], it [became] the sort of indelible, awful wrong that haunts both sides. ‘It happened very quickly, and to this day it troubles me,’ Thomas Buford said.” Another boy named David Seed, who witnessed the attack, ran into Lauber 30 years later at an airport, and said “I’m sorry that I didn’t do more to help in the situation.”  Lauber responded, “It was horrible” and went on to explain how frightened he was during the incident, and acknowledged to Seed, “It’s something I have thought about a lot since then.” Needless to say, this incident of bullying in high school was extremely damaging to Romney’s campaign.   

    • In the book Pledged, a sorority graduate gets a job interviewing candidates for a prestigious company. One of her sorority sisters, who was the sorority bully, comes in for an interview. It is all smiles and nice talk until the interviewee leaves. The interviewer then drops her sorority sister’s resume in the trash can saying “you should have been nicer to me in college!”

Mitt Romney, high school picture

Former Penn State adminsitrators Tim Curley, left, Graham Spanier, center, and Gary Schultz (PennLive file photos)

  • Take a second and think of someone in your life you care about. Now think about them being violated in front of another guy. How do you feel about that guy who stood by, maybe even cheered or high-fived the assailant?

  • If you stand by while someone you know violates someone else, you will suffer from that the rest of your life. You will feel like a coward and it will torture you. It will consume you when you should be thinking about ways to be productive.

  • A guy who is attempting to violate someone when you are present is not a good friend or teammate or classmate. He is putting you in a position where you could be charged as an accomplice to rape.

  • A guy who tells you or shows you that he violated someone is also not a good friend or teammate or classmate. He has put you in a position of being an accessory after the fact.

    • While at Vanderbilt University, Brandon Vandenburg sent two friends in California video of him and others violating a female student. Later, Vandenburg destroyed their cell phones and attempted to delete the video. The police were able to retrieve the video. Vandenburg was charged and convicted of rape and sentenced to 17 years in prison, and his two friends were charged and pled guilty to accessory after the fact, for which they received one year probation.

  • How to intervene in a potential assault of an intoxicated person.

    • Create a distraction. “Dude, she’s about to puke. Seriously. We need to get her to a bathroom now before she ruins the carpet.”

    • Be their friend. “You’re not taking her upstairs. She’s clearly way too drunk. You’re putting yourself at risk and I’m too good a friend to let you do that.”

    • Get a friend. “We’re not going to let you take her upstairs. She’s too drunk and you’re putting us at risk of being charged as accessories if we don’t stop you.”

    • Call the police. “I can’t stop you from taking her upstairs, but if you do know the police will be here in a few minutes.”

    • Call your parent. “My mom’s on the way here. You can’t take her upstairs.”

    • Call her parent. “Uh, her Dad’s on the way to pick her up. You can’t take her upstairs.”

    • These techniques work as bluffs as well, for example, even if her Dad is not on the way, telling someone her Dad is coming might dissuade further action, and if not and you aren’t able to physically prevent anything, then calling her parents remains an option.

    • Remember that in this situation, the assailant is likely to be intoxicated. That means he will not be entirely rational. It also means that his movements are impaired. His ability to hit you physically is limited. When a drunk person swings, it looks like they are hitting in slow motion.

    • Your hands should be in the open-handed defensive position. This does three things: (1) psychologically, you are telegraphing that you do not want to fight and are there to make peace; (2) legally, if anyone is witnessing or recording the incident, they will see your hands were open in a non-aggressive posture and you did not initiate an attack; and (3) physically, you are in the best possible position to slap away any attempted strike and counter-strike if appropriate.

  • If you participate in covering up someone else's crime, which includes not reporting a crime you become aware of, you are committing a crime and could be charged with something like obstruction of justice. Anyone who asks you to help them in this way is not a good friend or teammate or classmate.

    • Former Penn State athletic director Tim Curley, vice president Gary Schultz and president Graham Spanier were all sentenced to up to 12-23 months in jail, plus house arrest and probation for failing to alert authorities to child molestation allegations against ex-football coach Jerry Sandusky.

Brandon Vandenburg

Cover ups are like taking a ride in an out of control hot air balloon. You can jump right away as it leaves the ground and sprain your ankle or you can crash down from 20,000 feet. The truth does come out eventually.

  • If someone under the age of 18 sends you naked pictures of themselves or others under the age of 18, hit delete and respond “please don’t send me these again”. Keeping it is possession of child pornography. Sending it to others is distribution of child pornography. These are serious crimes that when discovered are almost always charged because they are slam dunks for the prosecutor.

You can conclude with another active shooter drill to get the doors locked down. 


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