Yet another example of the effects of school bullying. In this incident the lines of victim-offender are blurred. The victim of the bullying chose to take her own life instead of taking others, as society has seen other bullied students do.
"Even in death, Phoebe Princewas bullied. On a memorial page dedicated to the Massachusetts teen who had recently committed suicide, Facebook members left taunting comments that had to be removed."
" Nine teens have been charged in the "unrelenting" bullying of a teenage girl from Ireland who killed herself after being raped and enduring months of torment by classmates in person and online, a prosecutor said Monday.
Northwestern District Attorney Elizabeth Scheibel said 15-year-old Phoebe Prince of South Hadley was stalked and harassed nearly constantly from September until she killed herself Jan. 14. The freshman had recently moved to western Massachusetts from Ireland.
"The investigation revealed relentless activities directed toward Phoebe to make it impossible for her to stay at school. The bullying for her was intolerable," Scheibel said.
Six teens - four girls and two boys - face charges including statutory rape, assault, violation of civil rights resulting in injury, criminal harassment, disturbance of a school assembly and stalking. Three younger girls face delinquency charges.
Scheibel said the harassment began in September. She said school officials knew about the bullying, but none will face criminal charges.
While making the transition to a new town and a new country, Prince, officials believe, became the target of intense cyber-bullying." (CBS News, 2010)
The most horrifying aspect of this incident is that teachers were aware of the harrasment and had observed some of the incidents. Officials could not file charges on teachers involved as school policy was unclear on preventative measures and teachers responsibilty in these situations. In light of the recent revalations of the effects of bullying on teens, how could this be so? Across the counrty schools annouced that awareness of bullying and its dangers when the killing of 15 people by Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Kiebold, 17, occured in a Denver high school. Since then otherincidents similar to the one in Denver have made clear the responsibility of teachers in these matters.
Phoebe Prince went to teachers six times, and still the bullying persisted. Siting this incident and the incident of 13-year-old Megan Meier, who killed herself after being harassed on MySpace by a neighbor's mother, Massachusetts House lawmakers have unanimously approved a bill designed to clamp down on school bullies. One amendment requiring teachers, nurses, custodians and other school workers to report all incidents of bullying to the school principal and a second amendment requiring anti-bullying training for teachers. Considering all the warning signs have been there for a number of years, this effort comes a little too late for Phoebe and her family.
When will society stop standing in the shadows, wringing their hands, saying "how could this happen?" We know how it happens and we as adults are just as responsible as the juveniles that do the bullying. As long as we do not protect the weak and vulnerable, we should be standing in the courtroom recieving a minimum charge of neglect, or endangering the welfare of a minor.
Personally I have been treated with disdain when speaking out toward juveniles acting in an aggressive manner towards my daughter. Parents take a 'how dare you accuse' attitude and juveniles grin with delight behind their parents back. Does this bother me? No, as long as I am taking a stand, defending the abused, and confronting those that allow it, I am making a difference. Often people will aquaint my bold appraoch as an interfering parent. If protecting ANY juvenile from a bully is interering, well I guess I am.
The point is, how many dead children will be enough, how many times will we stand back and say "how could this happen?" How many times will we chastize a parent for confronting bullies? How many times will we allow teachers to hide behind policy, or lack there of?
Personally, I am not willing to sacrifice any children. I will sacrifice some social standing to confront bullys and their parents to save one child though. So bullys beware, I am watching and I will oust you, and your parents if they are present for your victimzing acts