Father of bullying victim speaks to parents

April 6, 2010 8:45:48 PM PDT
The father of a boy who killed himself after being bullied by classmates is sharing his story in hopes of helping others.

John Halligan of Vermont met with parents in Des Plaines Tuesday night to teach them how to handle the problem of bullying in school and online.

A father's love for the son he lost to suicide and cyber-bullying is what motivated Halligan to visit Algonquin Middle School.

"What I'm trying to accomplish is give them information that I wish I had before my son passed away," said Halligan.

For years, Ryan Halligan was picked on at school. His father says the pain was amplified when it turned into cyber-bullying. The same kids teasing him now had Web sites and instant messaging to use as weapons.

"When you couple the technology, the impact and how fast pain can brought on...was enabled greatly by technology in this case," said Halligan.

At the age of 13, Ryan was found hanging in a bathroom.

The teenage suicide rate has been rising in recent years. In Massachusetts, six high school students are facing charges for bullying after a 15-year-old girl killed herself.

Another teen suicide prompted Illinois to enact a law against cyber-bullying in 2008, which is why School District 62 invited Halligan to share his message with 700 middle school children Tuesday.

Halligan says after giving nearly 800 of these presentations he has been able to forgive everyone who was a part of Ryan's life and death, even the cyber bullies ? everyone, that is, but himself.

"Still working on that," said Halligan.

It's a work in progress for Halligan. But a father's love keeps the memory of his son alive.