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Letter: POB Talks About Bullying Prevention Program

(Editor’s Note: The following letter was given to the parents in the Plainview Old Bethpage School District and is being printed here at the district’s request.)

As you may know, Plainview-Old Bethpage Middle School and H.B. Mattlin Middle School have implemented a comprehensive bullying prevention program.  We are committed to taking proactive steps and our efforts this year have focused on raising awareness and educating our community on the issue of bullying and cyber-bullying.

We have recruited Mr. John Halligan to give a presentation on March 1 at Mattlin Middle School and on March 2, 2010 at Plainview-Old Bethpage Middle School for students in grades 6-8. Mr. Halligan will also conduct a parent presentation on the evening of March 2, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. at the Plainview-Old Bethpage Middle School. All parents are encouraged to attend this powerful informational session. Mr. Halligan will relay his own tragic experience as a father whose 13-year-old son took his own life in 2003 after about 3 years of incessant bullying by peers, both at school and online. His story is riveting and powerful and reminds students that there is a face, a person, a heart, on the other end of the computer screen.

Prior to the school presentations, guidance staff will be conducting an internet survey with students and doing some pre-lessons. Small group and team lessons will take place after the presentation as well. Mr. Halligan’s presentation will include a short video collection of home movie clips and pictures of Ryan while speaking about the factors that led up to his son’s suicide. Students will gain the perspective of the family of a child who was a victim of bullying and cyber-bullying. They will also learn how to detect the signs of teenage suicide and how best to help a friend.

Because of the sensitive nature of the topic, we wanted to inform you about it in advance. We encourage you to ask your child about the presentation and discuss it together. If for any reason you have concerns about your child attending the presentation, please contact your child’s guidance counselor.

Should you have further questions, please feel free to contact us. We encourage you to visit a website named for his son: www.ryanpatrickhalligan.org for more information.   

John McNamara, principal of Plainview Old Bethpage Middle School
Dean Mittleman, principal of H.B. Mattlin Middle School
Kathy Rea, PTA president, Plainview Old Bethpage Middle School
Diane Collins, PTA president, H.B. Mattlin Middle School