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Goffstown presentation to share story of bullying effects

GOFFSTOWN - Statistics show that nearly one third of all school-aged children are bullied and a program at the Villa Augustina School Sunday will soon host a speaker on the subject.

John Halligan, a Vermont father whose eighth-grade son committed suicide after years of bullying, will be the guest speaker on the subject that has gained national attention in recent years.

Villa Augustina Principal Beverly Broomhall said she knew of Halligan's program from her days as a school administrator in Vermont.

"He's a man of great faith, which is a wonderful connection for us," Broomhall said. "He found great comfort in his faith, which sustained him in his darkest hour."

Halligan will speak to parents and students separately, tailoring his presentation to each audience, Broomhall said, adding that his message resonates with parents and students alike.

"He tells a story that they recognize, whether they want to see it or not," she said. "And the kids are just really, really in tune with him."

Broomhall said hosting such programs is a way for the school to be proactive about bullying and cyber-bullying.

"Wherever there are kids and school and technology, there is always the potential," Broomhall said.

The Villa community is small enough that problems among students can be identified and addressed immediately, and has the added dimension of faith to put behaviors into perspective, Broomhall said.

"Sometimes in the way they speak and act and treat each other, they don't always realize they're crossing the line," she said.

The event is open to the community, and tickets for the Sunday evening presentation, which starts at 6 p.m., are still available at $15 apiece, or two for $25. Halligan will also meet with students in grades 6, 7 and 8 on Monday morning.

For more information, contact the Villa Augustina at 497-2361.

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