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Phoebe Prince, Pain Turned Deadly
Just the other day, I saw the cover of People Magazine, with a photo of Phoebe Prince. The cover stated that Phoebe had been bullied to death by other girls. Inside was the shocking story of how Phoebe, a fifteen year old girl with everything going for her, hung herself on January 10, 2010. She was found by her twelve year old sister.
Phoebe, who had recently come to the United States from Ireland, was bullied by a group of girls that went to her high school, South Hadley High School. She was going out with the captain of the football team, who was attracted to her because she was pretty. Due to intense jealousy, she was bullied and threatened by a group of girls, known as the mean girls. Among them was the ex-girlfriend of the football player, who called her obscene names and threatened her.
Unfortunately for Phoebe it is to late, the taunting at school and online was more than she could bear. Phoebe decided to end her torment, in the worse possible way, by hanging herself. One can only wonder, what does this story say about adolescent girls in our country today?
According to Psychology Today Magazine in an article titled “Teen Angst Turns Deadly”it is reported that these days, teenage girls are facing more challenges than ever. Itis reported that the suicide rate for girls between the ages of 10- 14 has increased a whopping 76 percent in 2004 and for girls between the ages of 15 - 18, the suicide rate went up another 30 percent. There has also been an increase in self harming behaviors such as cutting and burning among teenage girls.
Steve Hinshaw, a clinical and developmental psychologist at the University of California,Berkley, believes that combinations of cultural and parental pressures are to blame for the rise in suicides among teenage girls. Teenage girls today are subject to unrealistic pressure from society and the media and are not allowed any privacy, thanks to the misuse of social networking sites.
Girls are socialized to be nurturing caregivers and yet, are expected to excel as much as boys in academics and athletics, while being given the additional pressures of remaining sexy, thin and beautiful. Quite a tall order, for any human being, imagine how it must be for teenage girls, who already have a hundred issues going on as it is just with the pressures of growing up.
In today’s world teens are expected to excel in so many areas and this leaves very little to time to spend with their friends. Most parents are often consumed with other pressures of their own and often fail to see the signs that their teenage daughter may be handling more than she can bear.
To make matters worse there is a lack of privacy that most teens face today. If a teenage girl emails a friend to let her know her troubles, these troubles often end up being forwarded to all the other student’s emails and then broadcasted through various social networking sites. With the threat of having one’s painful secrets aired publicly and very little social contact with those who could offer some support, teenage girls find they are alone. Sometimes, death seems like the only way out.
Like Phoebe, most teenage girls do not have the same coping skills as adults and find themselves overwhelmed with a world that will not only bully and ridicule them, but will broadcast their pain over the internet. Many girls like Phoebe see only one way out of their problems and that is suicide. Teenage girls need the support of their families, and they need to have the opportunity to voice their concerns without the fear of being ridiculed or having their deepest fears broadcast publicly.
It is recommended that teenage girls have less extracurricular activities and that parents should turn of their cell phone and computers, so that they time to be themselves, and can get in touch with their own thoughts. It is also wise to get them involved in activities that foster a deeper social awareness such as ecology or community service, so that they develop a connection with something greater than themselves, that way they are not consumed with their friends, and appearance.
There are no easy answers, when one hears about how a girl, like Phoebe Prince found no other way out, other than to end her problems by hanging herself. It has been said by many, that children can be cruel. When this cruelty reaches deadly proportions, then something has to be done.