University Relations and Communications

Summer conference at MSU Billings tackles issues of bullying, safe schools

May 21, 2009



Kim Schweikert, College of Professional Studies and Lifelong Learning, 896-5880
Dan Carter, University Relations, 657-2269


Early registration encouraged for July 20-21 event


MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — There was once a time when bullying was viewed as a rite of passage. Not anymore.


About half of all children are bullied at some point during their school years, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. And with increasingly tech-savvy kids, cyberbullying and other forms of electronic harassment are now commonplace — even in elementary schools — raising concern for parents, educators and community leaders.


This summer, one of the most outspoken anti-bullying advocates will be in Billings as part of a two-day conference on the topic, lending his advice and encouragement to finding solutions on the topic.


John HalliganJohn Halligan will be one of thekeynote speakers at the “Safe Schools, Safe Community” conference set for July 20-21 at Montana State University Billings. The conference is presented by the MSU Billings College of Professional Studies and Lifelong Learning and the Yellowstone County Tavern Association. 


The two-day conference is being organized as a way for parents, educators, community activists, professionals and others to become more informed and learn prevention methods that deal not only with bullying, but also suicide, cybersex and gang activity. 


As the keynote speaker on July 21, Halligan will talk about his personal experience. He lost his 13-year-old son, Ryan, to suicide in 2003 as a student in Vermont. It was only after his death that the family learned in greater detail that Ryan was ridiculed and humiliated by peers at school and online.


In memory of his son, Halligan spearheaded the Vermont Bully Prevention bill that was signed into law in 2004. He also worked on passage of legislation that mandated suicide prevention education in Vermont’s schools.


Now Halligan works across the country as an outspoken advocate for more education and prevention of bullying, cyber-bullying and teen suicide. His story has been shared in a variety of media, including The Oprah Winfrey Show in a segment “Bullied to Death;” PBS Frontline special “Growing Up Online;” the CBS Morning Show; Good Morning America; and BBC World Radio.


He has been to more than 200 schools since 2005 and has retired from his engineering job with IBM to work on issues related to prevention of bullying and awareness of the effects of such behavior. 


The cost of the two-day conference, which includes breakfast and lunch both days is $159.  You must register in advance and space is limited. Children entering sixth grade and older can attend the conference with a paying adult, but must also pay the full conference fee.  Children under the age of 18 may not attend the conference without an adult.


Teachers wishing to get college credit may register for that the first day of the conference for an additional $100. 

For more information, contact Kim Schweikert at the MSU Billings Downtown Campus at 896-5880.


Photo above: John Halligan will talk about bullying and the suicide of his son at the “Safe Schools, Safe Community” conference at MSU Billings in July.


Please note: as a community service, MSUB is inviting non-conference participating adults to bring a child (of any age) to attend John Halligan’s presentation ONLY for no fee. His appearance is a rare opportunity and we want to provide that opportunity to as many parents and families as possible.


Back to Top