Cyberbullying: Phoebe Prince
Phoebe Prince's Story
Phoebe Prince was a 15-year-old girl that attended South Hadley High School in Massachusetts. She was originally from Ireland and had recently moved to Massachusetts. Her principal described her as smart and charming. She was a freshman who didn't quite fit in and dated a senior football player briefly that upset other girls that felt "she didn't know her place." She became a victim of bullying.
Phoebe was bullied in text message, through Facebook messaging, and in person while at school. They stalked her and called her names, such as a slut. The day she died, she was walking home from school and one of the girls drove by throwing an energy drink at Phoebe and yelling insults at the girl. Phoebe went home and hanged herself. A friend of her's who didn't want her name released, said:
"She was being bullied because she was pretty and people were jealous."
Even after Phoebe died, these girls left awful messages on her memorial Facebook page.
After her death, information surfaced saying that administrators didn't take any actions after Phoebe went to them, telling them what was going on at school to her. A day before she died Phoebe told a friend that
"school is almost intolerable".
A night after she died, a candle-light vigil was held by her fellow students.
What About The Bullies?
Parents of South Hadley High School students went to the town's Board of Selectman, to express their concerns of the bullies still being in the school. Their were nine students that were implicated in the bullying of Phoebe. She was virtually hounded by students, "a campaign of tormenting and making her life miserable."
"What kind of signal are we giving kids at school if some of the bullies are still walking the hallways acting proud," said parent Kathleen Keene.
Other parents had different concerns if the bullies were named, like high school senior Steven Grawboski,
"Name and shame these bullies and they will find themselves in the same place that Phoebe was and we will find more families with losing their loved one and more lives torn apart."
As part of the ongoing investigation, police told the local radio station,
"We've subpoenaed records from Facebook, we've subpoenaed web pages from Facebook, hoping to track down perpetrators of some of this criminal threatening."
State representatives stated that their would be criminal charges filed at some point.
In March 2010, the teenagers responsible for the bullying of Phoebe Prince were taken out of school and indicted on federal charges. At the time, charges like these were unprecedented.
Nine teenagers were charged for their involvement with the suicide of Phoebe Prince. Ashley Longe, Sharon Chanon Velazquez, and Flannery Mullins were all 16 and pleaded not guilty to civil rights violations and criminal harassment. Sean Mulveyhill (17), Austin Renaud (18), and Kayla Narey (17) also entered not guilty pleas.
Two of the nine teenagers charged faced statutory rape charges. All of them faced charges of stalking in addition to violating her civil rights and criminal harassment. School officials were not charged of any crimes even though they admitted to know of the harassment and didn't do anything to help Phoebe.
All of the teenagers were ordered to stay away from the Prince family.
Northwestern District Attorney Elizabeth Scheibel stated everything during the months before her death were,
The culmination of a nearly three-month campaign of verbally assaulting behavior and threats of physical harm widely known among the student body.
Some of the students had been disciplined by the school and weren't expected to return to classes.
The pleas deal turned the felony charges into misdemeanor's and if they completed community service and got their GED, than they wouldn't have a criminal record.
Aftermath of Prince's Suicide
Phoebe's mother spoke out in the courtroom against her daughter's bullies. She broke down emotionally while reading a victim statement in front of the judge.
"Never again will she ask me to read a short story ... or poem she has written," said O'Brien. "Phoebe was a beautiful, intelligent and gregarious daughter with a kind heart able to show compassion for others."
She further addressed the girls former boyfriend Sean Muleyville,
"Had I known the truth I would have viewed his interest in my daughter as predatory. ... Where was his empathy?"
The mother read one of Phoebe's text messages to the court,
"I think Sean condoning this is one of the final nails in my coffin,"
Sean Muleyville didn't even speak in court, nor offered an apology for his actions. She further spoke to Kayla Narey,
"Kayla had an opportunity to be a true leader ... and end Phoebe's torment. ... Kayla Narey is not capable of compassion."
Narey spoke out in court and cried about her responsibility in the death of Phoebe Prince and apologized for her behavior. She looked to be genuinely apologetic, but it was a little late for that to help Phoebe.
"I am ashamed of myself," said Narey. "I'm sorry for all the unkind things I said about you."
"It was my hurt, anger and jealousy that caused my attitude to change after Christmas vacation. That was when I had the chance to be the person I was raised to be. I failed,"
The plea deals were reached to with the agreement of Prince's family. The family wasn't interested in making these teens end up in jail, but to hear a public apology for what they had done. By accepting the deal they have admitted their responsibility publicly and are holding themselves accountable.
There was things said in the media after the tragedy in Mass. and it's allegations are that Phoebe had a mentally unstable past as well as being a bully in Ireland. None of that to me matters and is something used to distract the main incident that resulted in a child's death. I think it also tries to make it look like she deserved it and in no way did she no matter what her mistakes in the past have been. Its the same game they have played with Megan Meier's and also recently Amanda Todd. Fact is bullying is getting worse with intensity with the Internet and social media. Its a problem that needs consequences and kids need protection.