She calls it her life sentence, living without her youngest son. Maurine Molak told the families gathered at Frisco ISD's administration building Monday night she hoped her story would spare them the same sentence.
"I want to talk to parents and I want to share my story and tell them about the things that I wished I had done differently," Molak said.
Molak's son, David, was a high school sophomore and an Eagle Scout in San Antonio. Molak describes him as a regular Texas teenager who loved Whataburger and basketball. She said she saw a change in her son during relentless bullying on social media. The family changed schools, but the bullying followed David.
In 2016, David died by suicide. He was 16 years old.
"I couldn't let what happened to David just not be talked about," Molak said. "His legacy needed to live on and positivity needed to come out of something so horrific so no other parent would have to live through what we've lived through… and what we'll continue to live through the rest of our life."
The Molak family launched a foundation to increase awareness of cyberbullying and suicide and lobbied lawmakers to make changes to Texas law.
In 2017, the Texas legislature passed David's Law, which criminalized cyberbullying and required school districts to step in -- even if the bullying happens off campus.
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In the case of online bullying, counselors said the harassment often does happen outside of school hours, which means students don't get a break from bullying when they go home.
"I think the biggest thing we hear from our students that's changed is they never get to leave it," said Stephanie Cook, Frisco ISD's managing director of guidance and counseling. "The phone goes home with them and those comments go home with them."
"In our day and age, if we weren't invited to a party, we found out about it on Monday morning," Molak said. "Now, kids are sitting in their bedroom, on their phone and watching it unfold all night long on Snapchat. It's causing a lot of anxiety and depression in our kids."
David's Law classifies cyberbullying as a misdemeanor, enabling courts to issue subpoenas during investigations to uncover anonymous bullies.
The law also extends responsibility to parents of cyberbullies, making it possible for them to be sued if they don't intervene when they could have.
Monday, the Frisco ISD Council of PTAs invited Molak to share her experience and help educate parents and educators about their responsibilities under David's Law.
"Hopefully it'll sink in and they'll share with the next person and then we can be a community that really comes around our students," said Frisco ISD Council of PTAs president Melinda Samberson.
The council is holding a second program for parents and staff on Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Frisco ISD Administration building. For more information, click here.
If you or someone you know needs help, call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or text TALK to 741741.