Talk on bullying, suicide in Fairfield
Published 6:30 pm, Saturday, February 11, 2012
An anti-bullying activist will speak about school bullying and suicide during a public program at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 15, in Roger Ludlowe Middle School.
John Halligan spearheaded passage of Vermont's anti-bullying law after his 13-year-old son committed suicide in 2003. The boy had been bullied in school and online.
Halligan's public presentation, sponsored by the Fairfield Special Education PTA, supplements appearances planned before students at all three of Fairfield's middle schools Feb. 15, 16 and 17.
A separate presentation for middle school parents only is scheduled at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 16, at Tomlinson Middle School. That session is being limited to parents only so that they might speak more frankly about their experiences, the PTA said.
Bullying in school and online peaks during middle school years, experts have said, and can have lasting consequences both for the bully and victim. Fairfield schools this year have adopted a new anti-bullying policy that, among other things, aims to establish a climate in which ridicule and humiliation are not acceptable.
Last year, the bullying of a middle school girl in neighboring Westport garnered national attention when a video she posted on YouTube went viral.
Halligan's son, Ryan, was 13 when he killed himself on Oct. 7, 2003, according to the Ryan's Story website. Ryan was a middle school student in Essex Junction, Vt., and had been ridiculed and humiliated by peers, the website states.
John Halligan led the drive for the Vermont Bully Prevention bill, which was signed into law seven months after Ryan's suicide. He also successfully led the passage of a Vermont law mandating suicide prevention education in public schools.
Halligan has spoken throughout the U.S. and Canada and has appeared on numerous television shows, including "The Oprah Winfrey Show," "PBS Frontline," "Good Morning America" and "Anderson 360."
More information about John Halligan and Ryan's Story is available at: www.ryanpatrickhalligan.org.