8 - October 7, 2011 | Salem Community Patriot Bullying a Growing Scourge
by Jay Hobson John Halligan is on a mission and that mission brought him to Salem High to share a parent’s worst nightmare with students at two assemblies in the Davis gym - a nightmare of a parent outliving his child. Ryan Halligan was born in Poughkeepsie, NY, according to the Website his parents set up to tell his story. “Ryan was a sweet gentle, lanky 13 year old fumbling his way through early adolescence …” and he had overcome a couple of developmental challenges in his young life. With faculty at his school aware of his needs, Ryan was the recipient of special needs classes and when he reached the fifth grade, Ryan had worked hard and was deemed to no longer need his special needs classes. Even though school officials saw his success, schoolmates didn’t. According to John, “certain kids picked up on Ryan’s weaknesses and poor physical coordination.” These kids taunted Ryan and his parents thought that this was just kids being kids, “a part of growing up,” John said. Eventually, the Halligans enrolled Ryan in Taebo kickboxing lessons as a Christmas present and together with Ryan after dinner, practiced the program. With the kick boxing, John talked with Ryan about the proper use of kick boxing. A while later the bully showed up again and this time a fight ensued. John’s father was called by the school principal and Ryan was picked up by John as Ryan was walking home. Relatively unhurt, Ryan felt confident that the bully “probably won’t mess with me anymore.” He didn’t, for a while. Ryan learned to use the computer and was given the rules of use that his parents demanded. No chatting with strangers, no personal information exchanged and no secret passwords. The students in the bleachers of Davis gym listened intently
as John Halligan shared the torment that his son quietly endured and kept to himself. Rumors and innuendo of homosexuality. It was after Ryan’s suicide that John went onto his son’s IM account and read all that his son was enduring. A popular girl at school was the focus of Ryan’s attention and online, the girl encouraged
Ryan and pretended to feel the same way for him. When school resumed she made a joke of it and Ryan. Ryan was crushed. John shared that his son was suffering from depression, something he also learned that could be a “pile on effect.” The depression and all the additional bullying was enough to cause Ryan to take his own life. During John’s presentation, pictures of Ryan at happier times and with the people he loved and loved him looped on a screen behind him. The images of a happy and smiling young man coupled with the knowledge that this handsome adolescent with aspirations of the stage or standup comedy was dead at his own hand was heart wrenching. When the assembly
was over, the students gave a heartfelt standing ovation to John. Wiping away tears, both boys and girls applauded and stood. The assembly may have ended and the tragic story told, but the bullying across the nation continues to claim victim after victim. At www.bullyingstatistics.org
, the warning signs to tell if your child is at risk are clearly outlined. They are: unexplained injuries, change in eating habits, fewer friends, feeling helpless, talks about suicide, acts out of character, avoids certain people or places, feels like they’re not good enough, trouble sleeping, blaming themselves for their problems. These signs among others should cause parents to intervene and seek professional guidance according to the website. The Website also states that there are different forms of bullying such as verbal, social, physical and cyber-bullying and that it doesn’t just happen to children, adults can be bullied as well. The facts are that bullying creates an imbalance of power, the threat of possible or actual physical harm and is repetitious in nature.
John Halligan shares his son Ryan’s story with a picture of Ryan as a toddler on the screen.
According to John Halligan, “Bullies look for attention and the attention they get fuels their actions. So if you see a friend bullying someone, don’t laugh or feed the bully his attention. Pull the bully aside at some point and tell them it is wrong and makes you feel bad. Don’t give them the attention they want. The bystander has a part in the bullying too,” John said.
Students react with a standing ovation to John Halligan’s moving account of his son Ryan being bullied and his suicide
As the students filed out of the gym several stopped to talk and give Ryan’s dad a hug.
Steve Ring with Sun Glasess is joined by family members presents on behalf of the Chris Macy Ride to Mike Goodwin, Chief Executive Officer, and Mike Stevens, Program Director to the Greater Salem Boys and Girls Club.
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Annual Benefit Ride Benefits Boys & Girls Club
submitted by Michael Goodwin, Boys & Girls Club, Salem The fourth annual Benefit Ride in memory of Chris Macy was held on Saturday September 10. The ride started and ended at the Salem- Derry Elks in Salem, and was immediately followed by a cook out, live entertainment, a silent auction and numerous raffles which were generously donated by many businesses, organizations and individuals in he local community. This year’s event raised $10,200! Proceeds from the ride are donated to Dollars for Scholars to provide a music scholarship in Chris’ name and also to the Boys and Girls Club of Salem to help continue their efforts of being a positive place for kids. The family hopes to establish a recording studio in Chris’s memory at the Boys and Girls Club. Chris passed away at the age of 14 on August 14, 2007. As you can imagine, the loss to his parents, Debby and Bryan and his sisters, Elissa, Shauna and Jenna Rae, was unbearable. The benefit ride was started by Chris’ uncle, Steven Ring, as a way to channel the negative energy and shock the family felt into something that could be positive and uplifting. Keeping the memory of Chris alive, and encouraging a bright future for the youth of Salem is the motivation to keep the benefit ride and annual event. To date the Chris Macy Benefit Ride has been able to donate nearly $40,000 to the Boys and Girls Club and Dollars for Scholars. Steve Ring and those involved would like to thank the sponsors of
the Fourth Annual Macy Benefit include: Aleksa Auto, Trattoria Almalfi, Amesbury Sports Park, Balducci’s Pizza, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Boston Granite, Bonne Vie Salon & Spa, Bruces Garage, C&M Distributing, Cals Corner Automotive, Correct Temp, Bellmores Transportation, Choice Fitness, Ford Property Maintenance, Costa Foods, Daniel J. Lewis Carpentry, Elite Rehab, Enterprise Bank, Ford Flowers, Giovannis Pizza, Hannoush Jewelers, Independent Tire & Auto, J.S. Companies Landscaping, J. Michaels Sports Pub, Linehan Landscaping, McGinn Reality, Merrill Excavating, Methuen Muscular Therapy, NAPA Auto Parts, Northeast Rehab, Peach Tree Farms, Play Ball, Prime Butcher, Ralphie’s Italian Café, Giuffre Services, Richard Petty, Romano’s Pizza, Ryan Thomas Tattoo’s, Salem Police Benevolent Assoc., Dicks Dugout Sports, Derry-Salem Elks, Park Place Lanes, Santo Insurance, Scott Pellerin- Manchester Monarchs, Stachey’s Pizza, N.H. Saints Hockey, Target, T-Bones, Trans Medic, T.S.R. Hockey, Victorian Park, Weathervane, Northeast Flooring System’s, Big Daddy’s Pizza, Winmill Equipment, King’s Stone, Fitness For You, Just Smile, Allure, The Shirt Factory, Retro-Rider, Sanel Auto Parts.
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Staff photo by Jay Hobson
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