by Eric Shor
The Westfield community will be hosting an anti-bullying presentation featuring the life story of Ryan Halligan on Sept. 30 at 7:30 p.m. in the WHS auditorium.
The program is designed for Westfield parents and aims to promote awareness against all forms of bullying.
Ryan Halligan was a victim of cyber-bullying and committed suicide at the age of 13 in 2003. According to westfieldnjk12.org, Halligan’s father, John, will be the guest speaker at the presentation.
According to ryanpatrickhalligan.org, the Halligan family hopes that its story will help prevent future bullying-related suicides.
John Halligan has recently appeared on various television broadcasts such as the CBS Early Show and Good Morning America “to educate parents on how to deal with bullying, cyber-bullying and youth depression,” according to westfieldnjk12.org.
Westfield Coordinator of Counseling Services Ms. Maureen Mazzarese said that the presentation was first shown at RIS and was brought to the high school to educate a larger audience. “The hope is that we have the largest auditorium and we will fill it,” she said.
Mazzarese added, “The presentation is powerful, and I think anybody who goes there should be ready for...a hard story to listen to.”
Some students said that they have seen bullying and its negative effects within the walls of the high school.
Junior Eli Wirtshafter said, “I see it in gym class when someone is making fun of someones else’s athletic abilities, in the lunchroom when someone is belittling somebody else and in the classroom, when someone is being made fun of for their intelligence.”
According to nj.com, as recently as 2010, New Jersey implemented a law outlawing any form of bullying in school environments. Governor Chris Christie signed legislation in 2012 that allotted $1 million to pay for schools’ anti-bullying training programs.
Senior James Schiano said that “other students need to step up” in order to fully prevent bullying in a school environment.
Mazzarese indicated that there should be a “constant awareness” of bullying and that it should be an integral part of the high school curriculum, just as historical tragedies are part of the curriculum.
She asked, “How can you be horrified about the Holocaust and be passive when you see bullying?”