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Man Who Lost Son to Cyberbullying Teaches Students About Issue November 6, 2008

Posted by cyberpatrol in cyberbullying.

Fox44, 6 Nov 2008, updated 10 Nov 2008

Teens from across Vermont were in Montpelier Thursday to learn about the effects of cyberbullying.  One of the people they heard from knows about the effects first hand. John Halligan’s son Ryan would be about the same age as some of the high school students he spoke to.

“A wonderful sweet, gentle, kind, empathetic boy…I mean he was the kind of kid that he made friends quick. People liked being with him but there was a vulnerability of Ryan, he was a bit of a sensitive kid,” Halligan said, describing his son.

Ryan Halligan, 13, was a middle school student in Essex Junction, Vt., when he commited suicide in 2003.  After his death, his father John discovered he was being bullied online, through instant messaging in the months before his death.

“I think they feel a lot more comfortable in a cyber space world to do things that are far more detrimental and far more damaging to the well being of a peer, because there is no immediate accountability or consequence,” Halligan said.

Halligan works to make children and teens more aware of cyber bullying by sharing his son’s story like he did at A World Of Difference Institute on Thursday.  Tony Sulva, a senior at Champlain Valley High School, says it’s an important issue to talk about as he worked with some of his peers at the event.

“It’s not really saying it to the actual person, but really it’s kind of the same communication, just not face to face,” Sulva said.

Sulva also said there are many forms of technology used for bullying.

“Email, cell phone texting, instant messanger, and web sites like Facebook and MySpace,” Sulva said.

A bullying prevention law was passed in Vermont in 2004, and Halligan said the laws are evolving, but aren’t the complete solution.



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