Parents in Egg Harbor Township received a powerful message tonight from a man who uses his personal tragedy to help educate parents of the dangers of bullying and provide tips on recognizing it before it goes too far.
It's a harsh reality, but bullying in our society is still present and maybe more alive than ever before with cyber bullying.
That is why parents gathered, Tuesday night in Egg Harbor Township, to listen and learn from one parent who lost his child as a result of bullying.
"I added this parent component to this because I felt it was important to give parents a sense of the mistakes that we made and hopefully they'll have the chance to learn from our mistakes," explained speaker John Halligan.
"I'm terrified that the things that I read about and the stories like this from Mr. Halligan would happen to me, happen to my son, or his friends or family members, anyone," expressed parent Michael Salmon.
John Halligan, lost his 13 year-old son Ryan Halligan in 2003 after Ryan committed suicide as a result of being bullied by his peers.
Since 2005, John has visited more than 750 schools educating students and parents of the dangers of bullying, how it has evolved and offers tips on how parents can help protect their children.
"It was very insightful things he had to say about losing his son," said parent Ray Klein. "He gave us some helpful hints on how to protect our children and that's why we're here."
"His story is one of the best I've ever seen," said Asst. Principal Kevin Frick of Alder Avenue Middle School. "When I saw him the first time I knew I had to bring him to our school district. When I look at his story, I think of my own children and I think I need to be aware of what they're doing in the future."
And as the fight to protect our youth from bullying continues it is clear that we are all in this together.
"There definitely has to be a partnership between the parents and school administrators," said Halligan. "You cannot look at this as a brick wall between the two places between school and home."
"We got to work together, we got to keep talking to one another, keep expressing what's going on with our families and children and understand that the school, the community and parents we're all one," Frick said. "If we do that we'll help our children and get to a better place."
Click here to find more on Ryan's story and bullying.