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Syosset Council of PTAs Sponsors ‘Ryan’s Story’ Program

The Health, Safety and Ecology Committee of the Syosset Council of PTAs recently sponsored the nationally renowned bullying prevention program “Ryan’s Story.” The auditorium at Syosset High School was a standing-room-only audience of parents and children in the middle school through high school levels. John Halligan lost his son, Ryan, to suicide on October 7, 2003 at the age of 13. At the time of his death, Ryan was a student at a middle school in Vermont. It was revealed in great detail after Ryan’s death that he was ridiculed and humiliated by peers at school and online. Halligan has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Primetime, and PBS Frontline.

Halligan emphasized to students and parents the importance of educating the bystanders in the prevention of bullying. Bystanders should not tolerate a child being bullied, should not stand and do nothing while bullying occurs, and be assertive enough to ask their friends to “please stop,” explained Halligan. Schools also need to be proactive in conveying the message that bullying will not be tolerated, he noted. Students who are bullied in school and on the Internet fear retaliation and that bullying from peers will intensify after they report the bullying to school officials; this fear needs to be changed, said Halligan. Students were also encouraged to find a trusted teacher and/or friend to talk to.

The Syosset Council of PTAs agrees with Halligan that parents need to talk to school officials and feel assured that something will be done to stop the bullying. Members of the council also feel that the parents of bullies need to know about what their child is doing so that their child can be asked to stop.