Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. (R-Merrick) recently held an informational webcast to help students and parents better confront the dangers of cyber-bullying. The webcast was streamed live on Senator Fuschillo's website, fuschillo.nysenate.gov.
The webcast featured an informational discussion about cyber bullying and the impact it has on children. Students learned about steps they can take if they are being bullied, as well as the importance of looking out for each other and not being a bystander when cyber-bullying occurs. In addition, parents learned about the warning signs to spot if their child might be being bullied. Information was also provided on where students affected by cyber bullying can turn for help.
Senator Fuschillo was joined by John Halligan, whose 13 year old son Ryan committed suicide in 2003 after continually being bullied, ridiculed, and humiliated by his classmates in school and over the internet. Since his son’s death, Mr. Halligan has traveled across the country to tell other students about Ryan’s story to help them understand the devastating impact that bullying and cyber bullying has on its victims.
Senator Fuschillo and Mr. Halligan were also joined by Seaford High School students Becky Del Giudice and Zachary Pensa, who discussed the challenges students face with cyber-bullying today.
Cyber-bullying can cause serious anguish, and in some cases lead to depression, anxiety, or even thoughts of suicide. Fortunately, there are a number of places students and parents can turn to get help dealing with these challenges:
* Ryan’s story: This website provides information about the story of John Halligan’s 13 year old son, Ryan, who committed suicide in 2003 after being bullied and ridiculed both in school and over the Internet. The site offers informational resources for students and parents about dealing with cyber-bullying, suicide prevention. Visit the website at www.ryanpatrickhalligan.org.
* Stopbullying.gov: The federal government’s website (operated by the US Department of Health and Human Services) which provides bully prevention information to children and parents. Visit the website at www.stopbullying.gov.
* Child Abuse Prevention Services (CAPS): CAPS is a Long Island based non-profit organization which is dedicated to the prevention of bullying, child abuse and neglect and Internet safety. CAPS operates an online bully prevention center to help provide solutions to children, parents, and educators on dealing with the problem of bullying. CAPS also operates a confidential bully helpline where students and parents can submit email questions to get professional guidance on dealing with a bullying situation. Visit their website at www.capsli.org or email questions to the bully helpline at firstname.lastname@example.org.
* Long Island Crisis Center: A non-profit organization which provides free, high quality, accessible and confidential services to Long Islanders in crisis. The organization provides counseling on site or by phone to discuss emotional and social issues, as well as suicide prevention services. Visit their website at www.longislandcrisiscenter.org. Walk-in crisis intervention counseling is available any day between 9 am – 9 pm at their offices (2740 Martin Avenue, Bellmore) or by calling their 24/7 hotline at (516) 679-1111.
* YES Community Counseling Center: provides comprehensive services designed to respond to the complex needs of clients and their family members including but not limited to depression, anxiety and social difficulties. Visit their website at www.yesccc.org or call their office at (516) 799-3203.
* Mental Health Association of Nassau County: a not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving mental health in our community through advocacy, education, program development and the delivery of direct services. The MHA provides counseling for children and teens dealing with the emotional and social ramification of cyber-bullying as well as suicide prevention. Visit their website at www.mhanc.org or call their helpline at (516) 504-HELP (4357) between 9 am – 9 pm any day of the week.
* Mental Health Association of Suffolk County: a not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving mental health in our community through education, support, program development advocacy, and referral services. Visit their website at www.mhasuffolk.org or call 631-226-3900.
* School Administration: contact your child’s school to notify them that there is a cyber-bullying issue.
* School Social Worker/Counselor: you and your child can speak with the school’s social worker to discuss any emotional or social issues your child is having regarding cyber-bullying.
* Local Police Dept.: call your local precinct to report cyber-bullying or internet safety issues (dial 911 if it’s an emergency).