Characters from the Stop Bullying Now website
Characters from the Stop Bullying Now website

Hopefully Phoebe Prince’s life was not in vain. Bullying has been around since the caveman. However, never has the emphasis been so keen as now. It seems that the death of Phoebe Prince has become the Columbine of school bullying.

As more is being told about this tragic event, we find out that that the root of the problem was  because Phoebe caught the eye of one of the star football players. The statutory rape charge resulted from the fact that he was 18 and she was 15. He was also one of her harassers. His girlfriend and her buddies then got into the act of persecuting Phoebe for going out with her boyfriend. You know, that all too familiar case where it is all the girl’s fault and the boy is off the hook for any wrong doing.  At any rate, on the last day of her life, Phoebe was hit with an energy drink can thrown from a car when she was walking home from school.  She went into her house and hanged herself with a scarf given to her on her birthday. 

Much has been said on TV and the news about school officials’ culpability. The school has said repeatedly that it was only aware of any problem for about a week. I believe them. Kids are sneaky and I doubt this nastiness directed at Phoebe was ever done in front of any adults. Friends have stated that Phoebe didn’t tell school officials. So its very difficult to do something about a situation you don’t know anything about.  Most schools have anti-bully programs that address recognizing bullying and how to handle it.  Most programs also fall short.  Schools  generally have bullying built in to the code of behavior system.  Again, most bullying is done behind the scenes.  Someone has to step forward.  Bullying also must be recognized for what it is and universally agreed upon. 

Jodee Blando has written a book, “Stop Laughing at Me.  ”   She herself was the victim of severe bullying and she has  advised   parents when their child is being bullied to take care of their  child first. Reassure the  child that there is nothing wrong with him or her  and that the other people need to change. Then find activities through parks and rec one town over and enroll your child in something. Create an interim social life as a lifeline for your child before taking on the school system.  Break the cycle of bullying. 

Even though bullying has been around since the origin of kids, it has taken on a more virulent form with the advent of electronics. Phones, texting, computers, facebook, cyber communities are making bullying even more intense than old fashioned bullying  of yesteryear.  Parents are often unaware of what to be looking for.  A virtual chat room can be more devastating than a classroom mainly because a teacher is in a classroom.  Chat rooms are often unmonitored and it is easier to bully from behind a computer screen. 

Former juvenile judge Linda Hatchett will start an online program online at starting Monday night at 10 pm. Pre-register. What a great idea. Judge Linda also recommends that parents of kids who have been accused of bullying should come to the website. Those parents have a big responsibility also.

CNN has a terrific half hour show entitled Battling Bullies. This issue is not going to go away. It is time deal with this psychologically damaging situation.

The government also has a real hard-hitting website:     It even has comics. 

The resources are out there so that kids aren’t alone and neither are their parents. 

What is it that pushes us as  society over the top, so we no longer hem and haw over things like school violence, long trench coats bullying?  Readers will remember that the killers at Columbine, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, has been subjects of bullying and ostracism.  What makes schools, parents and communities finally pull out all the stops and decide that unacceptable behavior will not be tolerated?  Perhaps the death of Phoebe Prince has finally pushed us all over the edge.  Perhaps we will all stand up and simply refuse to accept bullying.  Perhaps school boards will not start throwing kids out of school who bully.  Perhaps society will no longer make up excuses for bullies.

Another slant to this story in Slate

There is a flip side to this story that has  a new kid in town slipping around and sleeping with other girls’ boyfriends.  While doing that should not get you killed, there are some strong social ramifications that are often involved with tis type of behavior.  Should this side of the story be ignored or does have a solid part in this girl’s suicide?  When we hear tales of cyber bullying and physical violence, how does this story differ from any other case where someone beats the snot out of someone else for infidelity, whether in marriage or dating?

5 Thoughts to “Phoebe Prince Story Finally Brings Bullying Into the Light of Day (plus a few other unspoken details)”

  1. Trish Dubois

    “sleeping around” In America the social and legal aspect of this is clear. Girls under the age of 17 can not consent to have sex, they are children no mater how mature they look. This was not a case of love sick teenagers crossing the line, but, two soon to graduate, home town seniors raping a lonely 15 year old girl from Ireland. Most decent American males understand that this is wrong. Why these two thought is was o.k. is a good question.
    As for Phoebe, the laws and cultural rules in Ireland are not as clear. While the age of consent is still 17 (18 for anal sex for both genders), the penalties for having sex with a girl between the ages of 15 and 17 are not as harsh. Remember, Phoebe Prince was a child in a new school and a whole new world, no support group of friends, family, neighbors and teachers to guide/protect her.

  2. Jodee Blanco was a guest speaker at Metz Middle School about six years ago. She was an excellent presenter and spent extra time afterwards, talking with and listening to students.

    We’ve got to stop bullying as adults, then maybe our youth will mimic kinder behavior. How do we treat others when we feel we’re in a position of power — behind the wheel of a car? Sitting in the bleachers at a little league game? Negotiating a transaction with store clerks? Voicing our disagreements with elected officials?

    What do we do when we see someone being bullied?

    How do we treat our own children?

    Bullies tend to be those who were victims, first.

  3. Very excellent points Cindy.

    Parents also need to be on the lookout for their own kids bullying. Kids get caught up and sometimes don’t realize that their behavior constitutes bullying.

  4. Wolverine

    I think cindy b has an excellent point about adults stopping their own bullying. However, I also think that adults have to find a way to intervene even when neither the bullies nor the child being bullied is known to them personally. I’ve done that several times in my role as Neighborhood Watch. Saw a kid being physically punched by a gang of youngsters almost all the way home from school. I didn’t know the kid at all but went out in my NW patrol gear and acted like the kid being bullied was an old acquaintance, asking how is mama was, how he was doing in school, was he signed up for any sports, etc. I then saw him home by watching as he went. The bullies backed off and went away, and I never saw the kid get bothered on the way home on my street again. I don’t know what happened afterwards in the schoolyard or other places; but I was darned if I was going to turn my back on such stuff in my own bailiwick. (Actually, those bullies in that instance were lucky that Mrs. W wasn’t home. Being a teacher, she has less tolerance for it than even I do.) In any case, I do believe that we all have to find a way to interject ourselves into this kind of thing whenever we can because parents are often the last to find out. Maybe we can be the messengers. In fact, I kick myself yet for not actually going over to talk to that boy’s mother.

  5. What a great way of handling it, Wolverine. Quick thinking.

    Mrs. W would have had those kids’s hides on the wall also.

    I am glad you brought up adults intervening when they see anyone being bullied. You are right. You don’t have to know them. And it is pretty easy to spot. Stranger intervention might even be the most important form of intervention. It is the least expected from the bulliers.

    Kids are so programmed not to be snitches nowadays. They not only fear being labeled, I think they have fears from being harmed. How many kids would not tell an adult if they knew one of their classmates had a gun at school, for instance.

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