Middle School Students Hear Anti-Bullying Message

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A powerful story about the tragic consequences of bullying that has been told at schools across the nation made a lasting impression on students at Edmund W. Miles Middle School.

In an effort to raise awareness about bullying and cyberbullying, the school hosted “Ryan’s Story,” in which John Halligan chronicled the life of his son, the bullying he endured and his eventual suicide. The presentation began with a slideshow of pictures and videos of Ryan, followed by Halligan recounting the struggles the young boy faced.

Halligan went on to speak of the emotional toll that the death took on Ryan’s family and friends. He made comparisons to the technology used by teenagers then and now, noting that texting and social media has replaced instant messaging and chat rooms as ways for bullies to hide behind their screens.

Bullies get their power from having an audience and Halligan said that those who act as bystanders are just as guilty. He said that students should use peer pressure a positive tool by encouraging their friends to make good decisions and treat others with respect and dignity.

Halligan’s message was that “any ink blot could be turned into a butterfly,” meaning that it’s never too late for someone to become a good person. He expressed hope that anyone hearing his message who has bullied others would think twice about their actions and apologize to the people they have mistreated.

“Being an upstander and sticking up for each other is a huge component of our anti-bullying program,” Principal Edward Plaia said. “We want our students to follow the golden rule — treat people the way you want to be treated.”