Saturday, February 19, 2011

Bullied to Death

I recently saw a man by the name of John Halligan speak at a middle school assembly. When I was sent to the auditorium as a chaperone, little did I know that his story would sit so heavily on my heart. He spoke about bullying and how his son, Ryan, was bullied so badly that he committed suicide at the age of thirteen. The beginning of the speech began with the introduction of his son through a video montage of his life put to the tune of Elton John’s “Last Song.” As a mother of three boys, one of whom is named Ryan, it hit a nerve and I was unable to control the tears pouring down my cheeks. I was not the only one and in fact, a few teachers left because it was so difficult to watch. At first, I was thinking that it was going to be too upsetting and overwhelming for the students in the auditorium. As he spoke however, my thoughts changed. They need to hear this, and many of them need something eye opening to really grasp the concept that there can be serious consequences to their words and actions. Quite often, people act or speak before they think it through. For whatever reason, however, it seems to happen much more frequently during the middle school years.
He spoke about how he handled the situation when his son came to him and told him that he was being bullied. And, as a parent, I was sitting there thinking that’s what I would have done. He and his wife handled it the way I would imagine myself and my husband handling it if it were one of our sons. That disturbed me. He said hind sight is twenty-twenty and I certainly learned from his hind sight.
What I liked most about his talk were these points:
The parents should meet with the bully and his or her parents to discuss the situation. I was saddened and intrigued that the schools and the laws across the states are not handling bullying properly and the rules and laws need some serious adjustments, which Mr. Halligan has been working towards. The one thing that I loved and I hoped every child took away from his speech was that the bystanders are just as much to blame as the bully. They have more power than they think. I imagine that most kids who watch other children being bullied are afraid that if they say something, then the bully will turn on them. While bullying has always been an unfortunate part of society, it seems that in our modern society it has become far more prevalent. Perhaps this is because today, people can cower behind a computer or a cell phone text to carry out their mission. Mr. Halligan states on his web site, “I believe bullying through technology has the effect of accelerating and amplifying the hurt to levels that will probably result in a rise in teen suicide rates. Recent statistics indicate that indeed teen suicide is on the rise again after many years of declining rates.”  I have not been able to stop thinking about this story since I heard Mr. Halligan speak. I can only hope that many of the students who saw him with me feel the same way.


Chaperone  (noun) - someone who accompanies and supervises a group, especially of young people, usually when in public places.

Bullying (verb) - intimidate; domineer

Disturbed (verb) - to perplex; trouble

Hind Sight (noun) - recognition of the realities, possibilities, or requirements of a situation, event, decision etc., after its occurrence.

Intrigue (verb) - to arouse the curiosity or interest of by unusual, new, or otherwise fascinating or compelling qualities

Accelerating (verb) - to cause faster or greater activity, development, progress, advancement.

Amplifying (verb) - to make larger, greater, or stronger; enlarge; extend

Fill in the blank:

1. The teachers will  ________ the dance.
2. The older students were _______ the younger child.
3. The movie "Taken," ______ me.
4. Looking back, I should have seen the signs, _____ is twenty-twenty.
5. I used bugs in the lesson to _____ the students.
6. I felt the car _____ as we drove off the ramp onto the highway.
7. The girls screams were _______ as the time came closer for Justin Beber to step on stage.

Grammar Point:

I have used many verbs in the past tense. Can you list all of them?

1 comment:

  1. This story is so sad, but also so important. Bullying should not be taken lightly. Hopefully the kids who saw the assembly were just as taken as you were by Ryan's story.