Friday, April 2, 2010

Bullying, taunting, suicide and prosecution

The sad story of Phoebe Prince ended in January when the 15-year-old Irish immigrant living in Massachusetts killed herself after months of harassment from her peers.
The story of nine students charged by the district attorney will likely be going on for a while, especially as to the question of how much teachers and administrators knew about the abuse.
This is a lose-lose situation, no bones about it. This girl's family has got to be furious with all of the people involved, and I can understand why they're considering going after the school district. One official is quoted as saying, “We were proactive, but unfortunately, accidents and tragedies can still occur.” That is true. However, bullying and harassment and abuse over months and months that lead to a teenager killing herself should not occur on school grounds. This was not an accident, and the school district should step up and take some responsibility. This is a big deal, and they need to do everything, absolutely everything to make sure nothing like this ever happens again. They owe that to Phoebe.
Now, onto her peers. I won't convict them here and now, but I will say that I have much respect for a prosecutor who is willing to take on a case like this. I don't think that's appropriate in every bullying case, although I do think quick, decisive and appropriate action should be taken every time bullying happens. However, in this case, if the facts presented are accurate, criminal charges are fair. These kids (still acting on above assumption) are predators. This wasn't a one-time teasing. This wasn't a mistake. This was premeditated, repeated, almost constant assault, both physically and mentally, of a young woman at a difficult time in her life. Terrorism or torture, perhaps, of a single individual who could not get away from her tormentors and could not turn anywhere for help because the teachers and principal did nothing.
And yes, they knew what they were doing. Hold them responsible, as adults. These teens need to learn a little something about life outside of the classroom.

No comments:

Post a Comment