Students hear about need to stop bullying and be kind

October 13, 2018

“Suicide is not the end of the pain, it is just the transferring of pain to those that love you.”

This was one of the impactful quotes from Joni Adler as she and her husband spoke Thursday afternoon at Lutheran High Northeast to students there, as well as Norfolk Catholic students and guests.

Dr. Mark Adler, who is the superintendent of the Ralston Public Schools, and his wife focused their very personal message on bullying because it involved their son, Reid.

Reid Adler was a freshman at Ralston High School when on Jan. 7, 2016, he took his own life. Upon further investigation, it was learned that since sometime during his eighth-grade year, he had been manipulated and blackmailed by someone to whom he had sent an inappropriate picture. The person threatened to release the picture on social media if Reid didn’t do as told.

When the blackmailer went ahead and released the picture on social media, the Adlers said their son didn’t know what to do. In the end, Reid, who would be a senior this year, ended his life.

Mark Adler said Reid’s friends had a conversation with their son earlier that night and probably knew something was wrong. But no one called or texted his parents.

“You must act,” Mark Adler told the Lutheran High and Norfolk Catholic students.

It’s a harsh message but when friends or bystanders see bullying taking place and don’t do anything about, they are part of the problem, too.

Mark and Joni Adler said that by sharing their story and spreading their message, their hope is that they can help save people from going through what they went through — and what no parent should have to go through — laying their child to rest.

Joni Adler said it’s crucial to remember that every person has value, using a $50 bill to illustrate her point.

She held up the bill and asked the audience who would take the money. Many hands were raised. She then crumpled the bill and asked the same question. Again, many people raised their hands.

She then threw the $50 bill onto the ground and stomped on it before asking the same question. Still, many people raised their hands.

Of course people still want the money, she said. Short of burning it or tearing it to shreds, it still has the value of $50.

The point is that people are no different. Even when people are put through tough times, they still have value, she said.

“Know your purpose,” Joni Adler said.

The Adlers said it’s also important to remember that everyone makes mistakes, and sometimes those mistakes are hard to deal with. But no matter how big the mistakes are, they can be overcome, they said.

Joni Adler stressed that students shouldn’t be afraid to talk to parents or other people they trust.

At times pushing back tears, the Adlers said that they didn’t necessarily know anything was wrong with their son, but they wish he would have reached out to them — or someone else he trusted.

A theme that kept coming up during the presentation was hope. The Adlers spoke that there is always hope.

“Even through this tragedy, we have hope,” Mark Adler said.

“No matter what happens, there is hope,” his wife added.

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