Nine teenagers have been charged in connection with the death of an Irish girl who killed herself after months of sustained bullying at a school in the US.
Phoebe Prince, originally from Fanore in west Clare, had moved to the Massachusetts town of South Hadley near Boston last year.
She is believed to have killed herself on January 14th last at her home after suffering weeks of torment from bullies at school and online including on her Facebook page.
She had started at South Hadley High a few months before her death and was due to return to Ireland later this year.
Yesterday, District Attorney Elizabeth D Scheibel confirmed that nine teenagers, seven of them girls and three of them juveniles, have been charged in connection with Phoebe's death following a 10-week criminal investigation.
According to the District Attorney’s office, one 17-year-old male was charged with statutory rape, violation of civil rights, criminal harassment and disturbing a school assembly. Another male, aged 18, also faces a charge of statutory rape.
A 17-year-old girl is accused of violation of civil rights, criminal harassment, disturbing a school assembly while another girls (16) has been charged with violation of civil rights resulting in bodily injury.
Two other girls, both aged 16, are accused of violation of civil rights resulting in bodily injury and stalking as a youthful offender.
Three girls, who were not named, are also charged with various counts from violation of civil rights, criminal harassment and assault with a dangerous weapon, believed to be either a bottle or a can. All the accused will be served a summons to appear in court at a future date, officials have said.
Where did the statutory rape issue fit in?
Since we don't know the whole story, it's hard to just make this an issue of bullying; instead it sounds more like attempted murder or manslaughter, not an average case of bullying; and therefore not even subject to the legalities of bullying.
The reason I have posted this story is so that we as a community can begin to discuss in a rational fashion - how such events can be avoided in the future ! people charged are entitled to be presumed innocent until proven guilty and that is important to remember - however - that does not stop discussion and debate on the wider issues.
Here's a suggestion, turn off the computer! People can't bully you on line if you don't go on-line. Oh and here's another suggestion, make a fake ID and Avatar and avoid harassment by those that wish you ill will.
For real life it's a lot tougher. I can remember being bullied in school. There's no easy answer but sometimes being the first to throw a punch will garner some respect.
I don't understand where any of the adults were in this situation. Nobody pulled this girl out of that school? Nobody noticed what was going on? I don't think so. One boy charged with disturbing a school assembly in this case? Looks like the school knew and didn't help her.
I had placed one of my daughters in a new highschool and after a week she started coming out the school doors looking miserable. I hounded her until I got the answer about bullying and immediately pulled her out.
There are too many educational options available to just let your kid suffer.
And schools can't do a lot about bullying if the kids don't care about school discipline.
What to do in the future? Perhaps the adults should start stepping in before it's too late. But it is hard to get kids to talk. It's embarrassing for them to not fit in with their peers. They feel like losers. People need to start really paying a lot more attention to their teenagers.
I live in Massachusetts, so it's been the subject of just about every talk-radio show for the last few days. Apparently, the adults involved (parents and teachers) knew it was going on. One thing alleged is that school officials didn't do enough while knowing about it.
I know, though, that on the couple of occasions when I told the school some kid was bothering one of my own kids, the general attitude was, "Kids are cruel. It's just how kids are." They acted as if I was some oddball who expected too much of kids - and at the same time, I had school people tell me that about 10% of the kids make all the trouble for all the other ones. It sure seems to me that that means 90% of kids aren't cruel (at least to extent of being chronic bullies of other kids). How on Earth could these school people "not notice" that, when they wrote off bullying under the "kids-are-just-cruel" mentality?
That the harm in bullying is being taken so seriously in the eyes of the law sends a message and hopefully it will be the right message. In this case what is done is done but in school bullying it does seem that bullies do not realize that their actions could have serious consequences. That legally speaking there could be very serious consequences might do more then anything else tried so far to tackle this problem. For me growing up the attitude seemed to be that bullying is a part of life, character building, and you just have to learn to deal with it. I would like to see that attitude change. Bullying is a form of abuse and can leave a person feeling just as traumatized as if it had been a case of a parent abusing a kid.
I think laws will only get tougher if parents don't get serious with their teenagers poor behaviors. Maybe parents should get charged under childrens and family law by children protection agencies. Torment, verbal abuse and stalking are not acceptable and shouldn't be allowed to continue. I bet this young gal was lovely with her beautiful Irish accent. my condolences to the family for this young lady now gone, it is heartbreaking.
For as much as life is wired by cell phones and computers, most kids are very disconnected in everyday life. Moms and Dads are too busy or away on work, extended family is distant. What we used to call cliques - well I think gangs have replaced them. And kids worlds are loaded with fears...terrorists, high crime, school shootings, etc. They are not getting what they need and are becoming angry. With their immature emotional skills it seems logical to bully.
If the bullying that goes on in the forums is evidence to what society considers acceptable, the next generation will take a step further and it will have even more horrors to unfold.
Just my thoughts.
Here's one that's even worse, if that's possible!
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/30/nyreg … f=nyregion
This doesn't surprise me at all, really. In a way I hoped the new generation of young adults would be a little more evolved but I guess not. This is the kind of stuff that my father used to tell me about happening with the black people in his late teen years.
Thanks for all those considered comments - thanks Ralph read that terrible story - all we can do is highlight these issues and hope that they stop before more people are harmed.
I checked back to this thread really hoping there was much more discussion on the topic. The issue of bullying is a huge one.
When I was a kid in the 2nd grade at a new school two older boys (brothers - one in 4th & one in 6th grade) targetted me to bully. At first they used words, then they would shove me around, until one day it escalated. After we were dropped off at the bus stop they knocked me to the ground and I was repeatedly punched and kicked. I made it home in my torn clothes, black and blue. Not one of the older kids even tried to intervene on my behalf.
I was a scrap of a girl and a very quiet one. It was my first year in public school. I had made friends and was pretty average otherwise. Why they targetted me was unclear, but they made a lasting impression on me.
That was in 1971 in rural Wisconsin. I cannot imagine 2010 in an large city school.
Is that just how kids are? Does anyone do anything about these kids before they drive a kid to suicide? Who is responsible? What are we suposed to do about it? Does society even care?
I think you started a good thread Irish. I am just trying to further the discussion. Holly
This was a sad story to read. I do put some blame on the school staff because they knew what was going on and didn't interfere but I place most of the blame on those kids. They're old enough to know what they were doing. They should be tried as adults and sent to jail. See how they like being bullied in max prison.
I don't have all the details on this case, so its hard to comment, but in general, I take issue with the way a lot of children are being raised today.
I am no perfect parent... I should state that outright. But, one thing that I try to do is take responsibilities for my own actions, and the actions of my children. Adults don't seem to believe they are responsible for their children's behavior. And, at some point, you are not... you have to trust that you've done your job, and let your kids make their own way, and hope that they've become caring, thoughtful young adults. But, I see parents w/ kids at ages 4 and 5 saying their kids are out of control and "I just can't do anything with them." Yes, YOU CAN! You are the adult... suck it up and act like one.
People blame "they system", "the schools", "the teachers", tv, the media... anything but their own parenting skills. It does take a village! But, as a parent, you are part of that village, and the most important part to your child.
The understanding of how to treat other people, the concept that your actions affect those around you, a sense of community, compassion, respect and caring all start at home.
Horrible, horrible things will always happen. Its the way of life. But, this constant violence we see, I have to believe that part of it is because, by not taking responsibility ourselves, as parents, we are showing our children that they don't have to take responsibility either. If we can't admit and work on our own short comings, how can we possibly expect junior to try to be a better human being?
Well... that came out a lot more passionately than I expected, and, to be honest, I'm not sure if I even answered the question. My apologies...
And, my sincerest condolences to that poor girl and her family. And, honestly to the families of the children charged. I can't judge, and who knows what drove those kids to be so mean. There's a good chance though, that whatever it was, it could have been prevented.
I just remembered another case of bullying like this but it was on a much larger scale. It involved a group of Asian students who were all immigrants and English was their second language. Something happened between an Asian student and a black student and black students started picking on the Asian students and the school staff didn't do anything about it until one day the black students attacked the Asian students to the point that some of the Asian students were hospitalized. I think it happened in Philadelphia.
I only am aware of a scant few details of this tragedy. I for one though hope all of these children recieve the maximum sentence allowable by law. And that the parents of these little cretins recieve some type of punishment as well. And every administrator at that school should be prosecuted as well. I do know some of the were well aware of the situation. This is just a pathetic and deplorable statement on the condition of some of our kids today. Just a shameful tragedy this is. I feel so sorry for the young lady who did not get to live out her life.
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