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When bullying results in tragedy

A student asked: "If Ryan had a message to the bullies, what would it be?"

Halligan replied, "I've traveled to 170 schools and this is the first time I've heard this question. I think that Ryan would say, 'I made a terrible mistake. I forgot about the people who loved me. I was too caught up.'

"When I lost my son, I didn't want to be here, but people helped me and I discovered who my true friends are."

Halligan then addressed PHS students directly. "Please remember that you are loved beyond belief. There's no perfect family. Don't believe you don't matter. Please talk to someone about your problems."

With tears rolling down cheeks, students lined up to shake Halligan's. Many expressed sincere sympathy.

Thanks to Halligan's efforts, a new state law was passed in Vermont. (It's not a criminal law since bullying has nothing to do with a conflict.) In memory of Ryan Patrick Halligan, Vermont's Bully Prevention Law-Act 117-went into effect in 2004.

From bill to law-within seven months after Ryan's death-Act 117 was signed by Gov. Jim Douglas on May 18, 2004.

"Bullying is conduct that this bill recognizes as being more than just 'kids being kids,'" Douglas said at the time of the signing. "When it becomes pervasive, persistent, and designed to humiliate or ridicule our children, it requires some response from not only parents, but also our schools."

"No Vermont child should ever again be driven to self inflicted harm and even death, to cope with the self doubt and pain caused by bullying," said Halligan.

"Bullying is an issue that should concern all of us-as students, as parents, as school officials and as lawmakers," Douglas said in 2004.

For more information about Ryan and how to stop bullying at your local school, visit the following website: www.ryanpatrickhalligan.org.

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