The 21st century form of bullying takes a different shape than the traditional schoolyard fight or lunchroom brawl or hallway tease, expanding into cyberspace and social media networks where taunting and humiliation can be seen not only by classmates of an individual, but potentially the entire world.
John Halligan had failed to see the warning signs in his own son, Ryan, who tragically decided to take his own life after being one of the early victims of the behavior. However, seeing that the behavior was spreading, decided to use the story of his son to help others – parents and students alike – in dealing with the ephysical, emotional and mental torments that many youths today endure, often behind closed doors.
Wednesday Halligan presented Ryan’s Story, an anti-bullying program for both parents and students, recounting the story of his son’s life, the ridicule he endured, the devastating impact that his son’s suicide has had on his life and the power of forgiveness at the Mineola Middle School auditorium.
Later that evening he presented a far more intense program and discussion for parents, offering strategies and tips for raising children in the digital world and protecting them from this kind of behavior.