Coldspring-Oakhurst High School and Lincoln Junior High students were quiet and attentive as Maurine Molak spoke to them about her son, David. They listened as she spoke about who he was, his dreams, his life. They saw photos of David with his family and friends. And they heard about the terrible effect cyberbullies had on him, to the point that he killed himself.
In a very matter-of-fact way, Molak spoke to students in a way that hit home. She discussed the four main components of David's Law, legislation enacted to combat acts of bullying:
- Investigations can happen even if bullying happened off-campus,
- anonymous reporting,
- mandatory reporting to parents, and
- serious consequences up to and including expulsion from school.
She also discussed one of the very real consequences of acts of cyberbullying - an electronic footprint that never goes away. Examples were shown of students who lost college scholarship opportunities, athletes and athletic teams that have been disqualified, and lost job opportunities.
At the end of her talk, Molak took out a pair of athletic shoes and placed them on a chair for everyone to see. They were David's shoes. A solemn reminder that he was real, he had lived, he had worked out with his dad, he had loved. A symbol of the importance to take a minute to walk in someone else's shoes.
It was a thought-provoking presentation that inspired students to be kind, to never use technology as a weapon, and to speak out against all bullying.