Six Teens Charged After Bullied Girl Hangs Herself

Three Massachusetts teenagers have pleaded not guilty in the bullying of a 15-year-old girl who committed suicide after what prosecutors call months of threats and harassment. Sean Mulveyhill, 17, (shown here) with the victim Phoebe Prince is one of those charged and reportedly had a brief relationship with Prince before turning against her. Also charged are Kayla Narey, 17, and Austin Renaud, 18. They are among six teens (also including Ashley Longe, Flannery Mullins and Sharon Chanon Velazquez) charged in the bullying of Prince that led to her hanging herself on Jan. 14.

Mulveyhill and Renaud are charged with statutory rape. Mulveyhill and Narey are also charged with violation of civil rights resulting in bodily injury, criminal harassment and disturbance of a school assembly.

The case is another instance of lethal bullying, which I have written about previously here.

Mulveyhill is a star football player at South Hadley High School and reportedly had a relationship with Prince after she came to the high school after moving from Ireland.

The teenagers had reportedly been hounding Prince and, on the day of her suicide, she was threatened in school hallways, and had a drink thrown at her while she walked home.
Notably, prosecutors state that school officials knew about the harassment and failed to act after Prince’s mother raised the abuse with them. Schools have been rightfully sued over such failures to act in past cases of abuse, here.

Prosecutors said last month that faculty and administrators will not be charged, even though authorities say some of them knew about the bullying and that Phoebe’s mother brought her concerns to at least two of them. Prosecutors say although the school was aware of the bullying, failure to act prior to Prince’s death did not amount to criminal behavior. They will not, however, be criminally charged.

For the full story, click here

60 thoughts on “Six Teens Charged After Bullied Girl Hangs Herself

  1. This is such a tragic case. The school administrators that allowed this to fester should be criminally liable. How they can know of bullying and not take any action is beyond me. The kids that indulged in this should also pay a heavy price. Where are people’s brains when they treat another human being this way? They are lucky that she was not my child because I would haunt them for the rest of my life to remind them what they took away. So sad.

  2. Prosecutors said last month that faculty and administrators will not be charged, even though authorities say some of them knew about the bullying and that Phoebe’s mother brought her concerns to at least two of them.

    “The investigation revealed relentless activity directed toward Phoebe designed to humiliate her and to make it impossible for her to remain at school,” said Scheibel. “The bullying for her became intolerable.”

    Bullying is so inculcated in our society. This is not just an example, it is the REASON. Why not hold school administrators responsible? The family went to them, this girl had a right to be safe at school. Bullying should never be ignored, not ever, not anywhere. And when they are done with the schools ,perhaps the justice system could trake a good hard look at what can be done about Corporations that bully, and law firms that bully.

  3. While I wholeheartedly agree that these students ought to be held accountable, and suffer the full consequences of their actions, I find it absolutely disgusting that school faculty and administrators will not be held criminally responsible.

    My high school aged daughter has seen this behavior in her school; cruelty aimed at one of her friends because she is a little person. She and many of her friends stood up to the bullies and the bullying stopped – without anger, without violence. Needless to say, I couldn’t have been prouder of my daughter and her friends. Unfortunately, many of todays parents don’t teach their kids to stand up for what’s right, and to stand up to those who are wrong.

  4. I am very skeptical of many of these charges against these kids. This strikes me as a ex post facto, PR-driven, over reaction by a prosecutor who is setting up for a future run for public office. Both the bullying and the suicide are horrible, but I don’t think that all of these charges are an appropriate response. Every suicide, particularly kids who commit suicide, is tragic, but blaming others for that suicide should be kept in check. Plenty of teenagers under far less stressful circumstances commit suicide, and plenty of teens under far more stressful circumstances don’t. Let me be clear – I am not saying “blame the victim.” Rather, I am saying that there is a limit to the responsibility that can be put on the shoulders of people who neither made the decisions she did, nor took the actions she did.

    The statutory rape charges seem particularly suspicious. If harassment and coercion was used to pressure this girl into having sex with either of these boys, then they could well make sense. But if these were normal teenage sexual relationships (normal including a fair amount of adolescent confusion and complexity), then it’s crazy to make a 16 or 17 year old kid into yet another marked-for-life “sex offender” because he had essentially consensual sex with a fellow adolescent.

    To the degree that these kids appear to have committed straight forward crimes, like assault, they should face those charges.

    The school administrators should not be fundamentally blamed for the suicide, but rather should be held accountable if they knew of students who were acting as a “gang,” conspiring to commit crimes such as assault, and were showing a repeated pattern of such criminal activity. It seems that they should be responsible for excluding kids who harass and interfere with the rest of the students.

    Interestingly, fundamentalist Christian groups should be in terror of this set of charges. Right now, GBLT kids are being assaulted and harassed by culturally right-wing bullies, and some of those victims of bullying will, tragically, go on to commit suicide. If these kids in MA are held essentially criminally responsible as a consequence of this girl’s suicide, then lots of god-fearing, church-going, varsity football team captaining kids are going to go to jail when the “fag” they like to beat up can’t take it any more, and does what so many kids do. The “ACLJ” and their ilk had better get busy before this sets a precedent that sends a bunch of “Christians” to jail.

  5. Actions and words have consequences. The teens who harasses and bullied are about to find that out. Its a shame the teachers/administrators are being let off the hook. Still i guess there is the cold comfort of civil actions against them all…

  6. When I was four years old I saw a boy, about my age, being picked on by other boys on the play ground. I went to his defense and suffered a bloody nose for my trouble but gave two bloody noses in return. And thus it went for the rest of my life. For some reason I despise bullies … always have, always will.

    I’ve found this particular dislike to be rather strange as I’ve never been bullied by anybody … but let me see it or hear about it and off I go to defend. It’s a quirk in my personality I guess.

    So … hang ’em high or put them in an institution where bullying is constant … they’ll suffer big time and deserve every moment of it … hopefully for years and years.

    P.S. one doesn’t want me on any of their juries.

  7. ” Both the bullying and the suicide are horrible, but I don’t think that all of these charges are an appropriate response. Every suicide, particularly kids who commit suicide, is tragic, but blaming others for that suicide should be kept in check. Plenty of teenagers under far less stressful circumstances commit suicide, and plenty of teens under far more stressful circumstances don’t. Let me be clear – I am not saying “blame the victim.” Rather, I am saying that there is a limit to the responsibility that can be put on the shoulders of people who neither made the decisions she did, nor took the actions she did. “- TomDArch

    I absolutely agree. Bullies are a horrible breed and the behaviours that these adolescents engaged in to torment a young woman are inexcusable. There definately should be consequence for their bullying behaviour, however those consequences should have been dished out by school administrators as soon as the problems were brought to their attention. If I was the parent of any of these bullies, I would be livid if school officials did not attempt to contact me to inform me of what my child was doing.
    Obviously this young woman was suffering from severe depression and should have been offered mental health counselling, again as soon as school officials were made aware of the situation. Perhaps with the proper intervention for all parties involved this tragedy would have been averted.
    We are very fortunate in this part of Canada, schools have strict ” no tolerance ” rules for any act of violence….including bullying with words. It works well, I know. I have brought acts of bullying to the attention of school administrators on 2 separate occasions and appropriate action was instant.

  8. “Obviously this young woman was suffering from severe depression”

    CaEh, why is this obvious? There are lots of mental states that are responses to bullying, including the natural chemical flooding that is a result of instinctive physiological response to threats…none of those kids should have been allowed to continue in that behavioural dynamic.

  9. WTC…
    I completely agree, those kids never should have been allowed to continue their behaviours…NEVER. The school officials and the parents involved had the responsibility to stop this behaviour the minute that they were aware of it.
    Depression is obvious based on this womans’ action….suicide. That being said, is it obvious that it was an organic depression, no. It was likely a situational depression based on the attacks that she had endured. Perhaps she saw no end to the torment = hopelessness, perhaps she felt failed by the adults who should have protected her = helplessness, perhaps she intended to simply ” attempt ” suicide as a cry for help
    = emotionally distraught. Whatever the situational cause, for someone to reach this point, depression is the diagnsis that we, in the mental health field, put to suicidal ideation or completion.

  10. Canadian,
    I think you are right. This poor girl felt helpless and the adults at school failed her repeatedly. I only wish that her cries for help had been answered.

  11. The statutory rape charges are bogus; however, I think some of the other charges are appropriate while others seem arbitrary and retaliatory after-the-fact.

    Of course, there should not be any legal impediments preventing the family from filing civil charges against the school officials—correct?

    I agree with most of what TomD.Arch wrote.

  12. Canadian Eh,

    It would be nice if the US could be as you described your situation. The practical realities are each school has its own agenda within each state and sometimes within the same school district. Since the standardized testing and no child left behind. Both of which are mandatory by federal statute they have no time left for individualized relationship issues.

    Too many of them are living out 1984. Yesterday Rick Perry announced he was going to sponsor a NASCAR Car for 250K and the next article was EBooks for classrooms. Hmmm, some schools are having to cut down or shut down because of money. It must be nice when people live in Ivory Glass Towers. They seem to forget that others are not as lucky as some and some are not as lucky as others. Seems like luck may be on your side.

  13. Phoebe Prince’s civil rights were violated, a constitutional right. The parents and faculty at some point must be held acccountable. Set the trial date and let all the text messages reveal these delinquents behavior so that maybe then will their parents assist them in being accountable for their actions and to deal with the consequences and maybe the school system will proceed with better educating their faculty. If this school was sued there could not be a dollar amount high enough to put on this.

  14. Tom D. Arch::

    Let’s say I embark upon a relentless campaign of verbal derision against a mentally challenged person questioning everything about him and putting his disability “front and center.” In doing so, I know full-well about his vulnerable state and also know the proclivities of such persons to do harm to themselves if their fragile sense of self-esteem is threatened by my knowledge of a very personal and embarrassing event. After weeks of this incessant harassment (some of it in public), the victim commits the act that I had originally foreseen, or which I had somewhat hoped for. Any culpability on my part? “Sticks and stones” defense apply here too?

  15. What about the parents of those 9 teens, they need to be held criminally responsible and sued in civil court too. All this talk about holding the teachers and administrators responsible, I’ve nobody mention the parents of these evil spawns of the devil that terrorized that girl to her death. These parents should be right up there in court being charged alongside their spawns of the devil.

  16. Sam, Blouise:

    Is it truly your position that parents of criminally responsible children should be charged as accomplices in the crime? Can parents control the actions of their teenagers to the degree that they are criminally culpable for their actions? Should the trial of these parents turn on their parenting skills? Whether they were in situ or not in situ when the child was reared? Whether they had full, partial, or some knowledge of the actions of their kids? Finally ,whether their actions or omissions directly lead to the commission of the crime or merely contributed to the attitudes that served as the background for the crime.

    These questions will have to be answered if you are serious. There is a reason we do not subscribe to the ancient custom of visiting the sins of the father on the son and vice versa.

    Even Ezekiel gets it right though not without detractors:

    The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself.
    Ezekiel 18:20 (NASB)

  17. There is a direct correlation between parental supervision and children’s behavior. Everyone must be held accountable. If not the system never changes. This includes the parents, teachers and the students that bullied. Children should be held accountable for their own actions and not their parents, making some allows for their age and other possible mitigating factors. If a parent is guilty of criminal neglect where their kids are concerned, then they should be charged with that crime. To say that it is o.k. for the horrific behavior of these juveniles in this Phoebe Prince story – what would they be doing in one year, or two years from now? It is not normal to behave that way. Sure, over the years kids have teased and taunted other students – but not like the teasing is done today, ipods, cell phones, internet, social networking, etc. Watch your kids, check out their facebook and myspace pages. The courts need to place fines on teens or not allow a drivers license for delinquent acts and provide counseling and therapy if needed to the juvenile and the parents.

  18. Kim Mansfield:

    “Everyone must be held accountable.”

    **************

    I think the kids’ former babysitters should be responsible too, since they likewise provided supervision. And while we’re on this accountability kick, how about the grandparents? Didn’t they likewise supervise the parents of these kids and do a piss-poor job of it? Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? I am likewise concerned about the city councilpersons who did not pass tough enough laws prohibiting unqualified babysitters from watching these kids, and unqualified grandparents from raising the parents of these kids, and hence off with their heads too! I also note that voters put these irresponsible councilpersons into office where they could be derelict in their duties, thus the voters should also be charged with criminal conspiracy. If we don’t take these actions, “the system never changes,” because it’s still the same system, and the only way to change the system is to arrest the system, and put it in jail, and have another system put into place that will be perfect. Whew, I’m tired, but I’m glad we got that fixed!

    The Queen had only one way of settling all difficulties, great or small. ‘Off with his head!’ she said, without even looking round.

    ~Lewis Carroll, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland “

  19. mespo727272
    1, April 8, 2010 at 6:26 pm
    Sam, Blouise:

    Is it truly your position that parents of criminally responsible children should be charged as accomplices in the crime? Can parents control the actions of their teenagers to the degree that they are criminally culpable for their actions? Should the trial of these parents turn on their parenting skills? Whether they were in situ or not in situ when the child was reared? Whether they had full, partial, or some knowledge of the actions of their kids? Finally ,whether their actions or omissions directly lead to the commission of the crime or merely contributed to the attitudes that served as the background for the crime.

    These questions will have to be answered if you are serious. There is a reason we do not subscribe to the ancient custom of visiting the sins of the father on the son and vice versa.

    Even Ezekiel gets it right though not without detractors:

    The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself.
    Ezekiel 18:20 (NASB)

    ==============================================================
    I will speak for myself, not for Sam as I don’t know his motivation, but I did agree with him and am responsible for that. I take your questions seriously and am giving them serious thought and will answer them for I consider this situation to be a prime example of bullying gone to its most terrible extreme.

    From the article:
    ” … the culmination of a nearly three-month campaign of verbally assaultive behavior and threats of physical harm” that was widely known among the student body.

    On the day she died, Prince had been bullied in the library, threatened in school hallways, and had a drink thrown at her while she walked home.

    “The investigation revealed relentless activity directed toward Phoebe designed to humiliate her and to make it impossible for her to remain at school,” said Scheibel. “The bullying for her became intolerable.” (end article quote)

    My laying of the groundwork (with assist from various articles in quotes):

    The victim was a freshman, 15 years old and newly arrived in both the school and the country. Three of the perpetrators facing criminal charges are 17 and 18 year olds … others, nicknamed the “mean girls” are 16 and 17 year olds. All are upper class-men/women.

    It has been suggested that the victim’s brief relationship with the upper class man/star football player “allegedly initiated a wave of hate toward Prince from other “popular” girls who allegedly deemed the relationship to be unsuitable.” It has also been suggested that the “”foreigner factor” is likely to have provided an extra excuse for the teens to allegedly ridicule and intimidate Prince.”

    I will repeat for emphasis that the 3 month campaign was “widely known among the student body.”

    My daughter was part of a popular clique in high school as was I. My mother counseled me, as I counseled my daughter, that one of the many pitfalls of popularity was the act of bullying … using ones popularity as a weapon against others. It’s an easy road to take and a dangerous one both to those around you and, most importantly, to your own self-image and sense of worth. My mother watched me like a hawk and watched my friends … I did the same with my daughter. My mother developed a network with my friends’ mothers and I did the same with the mothers of my daughter’s friends. As a result my friends and I got away with very little (somebody’s mother knew one thing, someone else’s mother knew another thing … and like puzzle masters, they put it all together) … same for my daughter and her friends. Paying that close attention is a lot of work but the outcome is well worth the effort.

    What this group of uncontrolled bullies did, allegedly, ended the life of another human being … this is something each will have to live with long after their “popular” days at high school are over. The ripple effect upon the lives of the victim’s family will be constant and incredible pain.

    Will the parents now spend every dollar they can scrape together keeping their child from suffering the legal consequences of his/her actions? Oh yeah. But no amount of money will save their child’s sense of self worth or restore his/her self image. And nothing will undo what, allegedly, their child did.

    In agreeing with Sam, I was expressing a sense of outrage that the ones most responsible for the behavior of these bullies, outside of the bullies themselves, weren’t even mentioned in the articles. Do bullies develop in a vacuum? No. Is bullying a learned behavior? Yes. Who is responsible for what a child learns? The parents.

    I had to look up “in situ” and it means “in place”, right?

    The alleged bullies should be charged and brought to trial for what they allegedly did to the victim. Their parents, on the other hand, should be charged and brought to trial for the loss suffered by the victim’s parent due to their piss poor parenting skills (a kind of symmetry of justice based on depraved indifference which focuses on the risk created by their conduct, not the injuries actually resulting.) They were, after all, very much in situ during the 3 months their children were allegedly engaging in lethal activities. Poor parenting skills are not “of the righteous” … but I don’t have a Bible verse to back that up.

    Okay, you caused me to think it through … where are the flaws in my reasoning?

  20. Oh, I forgot … possible defense to a charge of “depraved indifference” which focuses on the risk created by a parent’s conduct, not the injuries actually resulting from poor parenting skills:

    “I knew something of what my child was doing and tried to stop it but the little bugger wouldn’t listen to me.”

    Perfect … turn on your kid to save yourself … painful, but nothing like the pain the victim’s mother is experiencing.

    Symmetry … Justice.

  21. Whoa – the post by Sam yesterday afternoon was not me! I guess there is nothing blocking the use of anyone’s identity on here – I’m assuming I could post as anyone on here?

    This needs to be fixed…I just re-read the post and I did not post that!

  22. Sam,

    Your e-mail is fixed data. The screen name is attached to it. If you wish to lower the chance of mistaken identity, might I suggest going to http://www.gravatar.com and registering an avatar associated to your address. In addition, you can go to Wordress and register as a user there as well. It’s not perfect, but it’s good enough that if someone seriously tries to impersonate you, it’ll give the Prof the information required to remove the offender which history has shown he will ban people for that.

    But you do have to admit there is probably more than one Sam about. Could be pure coincidence.

  23. Canadian Eh…

    you said “Whatever the situational cause, for someone to reach this point, depression is the diagnsis that we, in the mental health field, put to suicidal ideation or completion.”

    So would you say then that the bullying was the cause of that depression?…or that the suicide was the result of depression and not bullying?

  24. mespo,

    When my daughter was 10 years old she went to a slumber party with two other girls. For the purpose of this post “#1″ is the girl who had the party, “#2″ is my daughter, and “#3″ is the girl who threw the egg. It is a week before Halloween. It is after midnight. The night is overcast, chilly and shrouded in fog. The houses in the neighborhood are decorated with ghosts and goblins. The parents are in bed and the girls are giggling in the family room telling ghost stories.

    Someone gets the idea to grab some toilet paper, a few eggs, and sneak out of the house to have some “fun”.

    Cut to the chase … at 1:00am all the parents get phone calls from the Police Station. Our children had been caught out after curfew, in possession of three rolls of toilet paper and two eggs. A third egg was plastered on someone’s front porch. Toilet paper is “no big deal” say the cops but egging a house is destruction of property and the owner is considering pressing charges.

    The parents of girls #1 and #2 get together and agree upon a coarse of action. Girl #3’s parents opt out as, in their opinion, getting caught by the police and being taken to the Station is punishment enough. Girl #3 admitted to throwing the egg.

    The agreed upon coarse of action for #1 and #2 was that they had to compose a letter of apology and, in the company of their fathers, had to hand deliver the letter to the owner of the egged house. In the letter they were to offer to clean the egg off the front porch or, if that was not acceptable, to pay for the owner’s hiring someone to do it.

    The owner accepted their offer to clean up the egg. The fathers unloaded the cleaning supplies from the car and supervised the girls. The owner inspected their completed work, complimented them on the job and told them he accepted their apology. He then returned their letter with a copy of same that he had made on his home office copier. He suggested they keep it as it might come in handy one day when they were parents themselves. Neither girl was allowed to mention that the absent #3 actually threw the egg.

    The parents also took advantage of the situation to talk to their girls about keeping their judgement of right and wrong especially when in a group … the “Mob Mentality” thing where no one feels individually responsible for what the mob does as a whole and the dangers of going into a store with friends who shoplift etc.

    The parents also explained to the girls that they were to stay away from girl #3 … not because she threw the egg but because they did not approve of the parenting skills of #3’s mother and father.

    These girls are now in their 30’s and still good friends. They are very successful in their chosen careers and each now has a toddler. They both still have their copy of the letter.

    Girl #3 experienced many behavioral problems in High School and no one knows where she is today or what she is doing with her life.

    Helping one’s child to build character is a very important parenting skill and the process begins as soon as the child is able to reason and continues well into their 20’s.

    Children who have reached the ages of 16, 17, and 18 and lack the strength of character to control the urge to bully others are a direct reflection on their own parents’ child rearing abilities. The victims should be legally able to address those parental failures and society should hold them accountable.

  25. Sam

    Whoa – the post by Sam yesterday afternoon was not me! I guess there is nothing blocking the use of anyone’s identity on here – I’m assuming I could post as anyone on here?

    This needs to be fixed…I just re-read the post and I did not post that!
    ==============================================================
    Two Sams? A dubious double blessing?

    I like Buddha’s suggestion.

  26. personally i hope these kids are tried as adults then are convicted
    and go to grown up prison for 20 years. what they did in my opinion
    is no difference than if they took a gun and shot her dead. they
    killed this poor girl and now she is gone forever and these punks
    will keep on living but i hope its a living hell.

  27. I actually graduated from this high school only 4 years ago. We never had anyone commit suicide because of bullying when I was there, but the stage was certainly being set for this incident. The biggest problem at the school was always the lack of a tough no-nonsense administrative staff. But even teachers can do more. As a freshmen there, I was bullied in a class for a while and as soon as the teacher noticed it, he started blocking for me. That really went a long way. Of all the people that they are coming down on, I really do not think the principal deserves any heat. He’s a good guy who was always interested in what each student was doing. As for the charges against the students, I’d hope that most of them would be dropped. We’ve already seen the loss of one life, is destroying 6 or 7 others really going to make it better? It has already been tragic enough, no sense in compounding it.

  28. ” So would you say then that the bullying was the cause of that depression?…or that the suicide was the result of depression and not bullying? “- Woosty’s Still a Cat..

    *******
    Wow that’s a really difficult question to answer with so little details about the young woman.
    From what I have read here, and in another article that I read earlier this week with respect to this case, it is very possible that she was depressed before the bullying.
    The articles stated that she has recently moved to the US from Ireland, which would be an incredible difficult situation for any teenager and also within the top 10 life stressors for all people. She had recently broken up with her boyfriend, a boy whom she had been intimate with ( I am inferring from the fact that he was charged with Stat. rape and not rape )who became one of her tormentors. Teenaged break-ups can be devastating on their own, but add in the emotional connection formed by a 15 year old girl who becomes intimate with the boy who dumps her and then starts tormenting her. There is mention of a mom in the article but not of a dad, so there is a possibility of an absent fater or a recent parental break up in her life. Finally, when she reached out to adults for help because things became intollerable for her, no one stepped in to stop it. With all of the events in her life, we know nothing of family history of depression so it would be impossible to determine the possiblity of a genetic link.
    So t answer your question, I think that depression was probably the result of the cumulation of everything happening in her life, her inability to receive help when she reached out for it, and not knowing how to cope with all of the events being thrown at her. Obviously, suicide seemed to her to be the only way to escape all of the discord in her life.
    There were certainly enough possible causes for situational depression in this girls life before the bullying started…and then add that in on top.

  29. Buddha,
    just testing to see if I did the gravatar correctly. I had to change my name to do it…..so here goes
    Formally Canadian Eh!

  30. mscanadianeh,

    When you post to the blog, you should be able to manually change your name back to Canadian, Eh! if you wish. As long as the e-mail address remains the same associated with the icon, you should be good to go.

  31. I’d like to say nice icon by the way. :D But I have to ask what is it? Buddha Is Going Blind. ;)

  32. Ahhh Buddha….what would I do without you ;)
    It is a woman sitting on a harvest moon & a branch with maple leaves hanginf in front of it….a native looking painting actually. i was looking for something Canadian related without being corny about it :)

  33. @Canadian Eh,

    I think there are lots of psychological states that exist and foster suicide. Severe anxiety, fear, confusion, mixed states. I am not comfortable that ‘depression’ is the correct understanding of her state of mind. I can see how it could be used to get the perps off though…

  34. Woosty’s Still a Cat….

    I agree, anxiety ( a.k.a fear ), and confusion were very likely symptoms that Phoebe Prince was experiencing, these are symptoms that often accompany depression. To be honest, the time to be able to formulate an absolute diagnosis is gone, it left the moment that she took her last breath.
    Hopefully something positive comes as the result of a young girls’ life ending. Perhaps school administrators everywhere will see the importance of intervening in allegations of bullying, and begin to act in an appropriate manner by dealing with the bullies and getting psychological help for the victims.

  35. Blouise:

    Sorry for the late reply to your thoughtful analysis.

    I think your sense of outrage (which mirrors my own) is skewing your persepctive. Likely, that is why you wish to “punish” the parents for the actions of the children. It is a sad and manifest fact that good parenting will not insure good conduct by children. Our Chief Justice in Virginia suffered the tragedy every parent dreads when his son was convicted of a felony. The Justice is both a good and compassionate person, and, by all accounts, a good parent. When the crime came to light, both parents took appropriate action. How might we justify then punishing the parents for the actions of their child?

    In this case, we have no idea what the parents knew and when the knew it. We, likewise, have no idea what they did when informed of it. Lord knows, that in my youth, very little bad news of my behavior made its way to my door. I suspect the same is still true today. All in all in this society, we punish for actions which are clearly spelled out and which conform to our notions of an individual’s control over the various behavioral choices. That is why we do not punish those with mental disabilities, or those who commit wrongful acts with the barrel of gun pointed at them.

    Parents, by and large, do the best they can given their training, education, and resources, but no primate can coerce the actions of another with persuasion or threats of punishment. That is the mischievous nature of primates given double effect when their pre-frontal cortexes are not yet fully developed.

    P.S. Sorry for the oblique Latin reference, in situ. I was referring to parents out of the home. e.g., military parents, parents in divorce situations, etc.)

  36. Yes, perhaps you are correct in your suggestion that my sense of outrage led me towards a desire to see the parents punished. My initial reaction was based on the article wherein mention of holding the school officials and the children responsible without any mention of the responsibility of their parents.

    That aside, I have long felt that our society puts far too much of a burden on our public school system … a burden that rightfully should reside with the parents. I understand why it is done but I don’t really approve of it. Part of the reason I don’t approve appears so poignantly in the article … the attitude that permits us to first look to blame the school system before looking at the parents.

    Do I feel sorry for the parents of these children? Yes and no. Yes to their anguish, in that their children will be paying a very real price for their actions that, I’m pretty sure, none of them anticipated. And no, because I can not think of those parents without thinking of the young girl’s mother … a parent who will never see her child again. That juxtaposition lessens my sympathy, dramatically.

    The scenario that led to this tragedy goes on in public high schools across America. I’m going to call it, for want of a better term, “Nailing the Freshman”. The upper class guys wait for the new crop of freshman girls to show up and attempt to “nail” a few. It’s almost a contest. Some freshman girls, nervous and anxious to be accepted, fall for it. The affair ends quickly and the upper class females, angry at having their men taken away, however briefly, move in to teach the freshman a lesson … put them back in their place … in this case the lesson turned deadly.

    I’m going to suggest that this case was a little different in that the freshman was new to the community and thus probably had no friends to help support her through the bullying. More than likely the girls doing the bullying had experienced something of the same thing when they were freshman with the probability that they had a support group of friends to commiserate with them. I suspect it was, in their opinion, their turn to dish it out. The mob mentality took over and, more than likely, each girl went further in the company of her friends than she would ever have done as an individual. What a shock it must be to find that the law will look at her as an individual and hold her accountable.

    But none of this understanding is going to restore that child to her mother. That parent, no matter what is done, will never have justice. But then that is the way of the world … right?

    The ones who are alive, and living amongst us, we will find a way to mitigate their pain, we will show them sympathy … mercy. The one who is dead … well, we may even find subtle ways to blame her … depression and the like. We will have sympathy and show mercy towards the parents of the living … not charge them for any negligence or ignorance … after all, they are suffering too. The parent of the dead … well, we may even find a way to semi blame her … suggest that she should have done more.

    But mespo, bullying is so common in children and it shouldn’t be. We raise our children to be careful around fire, hot stoves, electric outlets, traffic, strangers … but bullying? No, that’s almost a right of passage. Why then should we expect the schools to control something that parents neglect?

    I know parents who taught their children not to steal and were appalled when their children were charged with shoplifting or breaking and entering. The good ones hired lawyers and counselors for their kids, and made restitution to those their children had wronged. How are these parents going to make restitution to a dead girl, her mother, and her three sisters? They can’t. And perhaps, for caring parents, therein lies the punishment.

    I think, mespo, and I mean this most sincerely, that you are much wiser than I. So I will modify my stance … if, after investigation by the District Attorney, the parents of these children were found to have been aware of the bullying and attempted to stop it, then no charge of Depraved Indifference should be brought. If, after investigation, the District Attorney believes that the parents were ignorant of the bullying but had they known, would have made an effort to stop it, then no charges of Depraved Indifference should be brought. If, after investigation, the District Attorney determines that the parents knew of the bullying and did nothing to stop it, then charges of Depraved Indifference should be brought. At any rate, for the sake of the dead girl, her mother and her sisters, the parents of these children should be looked at very closely.

    P.S. I figured, after looking in situ up, that is what you meant … I spun it a little for literary purposes … mea culpa

  37. “I think, mespo, and I mean this most sincerely, that you are much wiser than I.”

    **************

    Your thoughtful well-considered reply disproves this assertion.

    Your point is that we need to nip this problem in the bud, and I could not agree more. I am all for anti-bullying measures in the schools, but I agree we ask more of an institution than we do from ourselves, and that is foolishness. As the son of a school administrator, I understand the burden we place on schools to do lots more than educate on coursework.

  38. mespoou ever come through the Cleveland area, please stop by for tea,

    “As the son of a school administrator, I understand the burden we place on schools to do lots more than educate on coursework.”

    ============================================================

    Ah, I can see that you do. (Perhaps being the child of a school administrator is as perilous as being the son of a Police Chief or minister? (suggested with a slightly teasing overtone))

    If you ever come through the Cleveland area, please stop by for tea or coffee … we’ll sit on the back porch, watch the sailboats on Lake Erie and straighten out the world.

  39. Does any of the people writing on this board have a job? Bullying happens. Life it tough. Difficult situations build character and make one, as a person, stronger. I am not condoning the bullying. It is a horrible thing, and I have been bullied myself, but I can look back today and say “Thank you” to them because I am better because of it. I know how to stand up for myself, and for others now. Anyone can say what they want to, but at the end of the day, the fact remains – that girl did it herself. I don’t want to be insensitive, however, it is insane that as a society, we always want to play the “blame game.” They are responsible for the harassment, but that kind of situation is not much different than situations many of us that have graduated high school have experienced personally, or seen happen – it should be handled as such. There is no reason to ruin however many more teenagers’ lives for what she did. I personally have lost two friends because of what happened between them and their girlfriends. Do I, their parents, or officials blame the girlfriends for what they did – no. This is a part of the growing up process; adolescents are mean to each other. Actions like these help to breed a generation of kids that wont get anywhere because they never learned to stand up for themselves or someone else. The world is a tough place itself. High school is where one should learn to deal with the world while one still has the guidance of his or her parents.

  40. “Bullying happens. Life it tough. Difficult situations build character and make one, as a person, stronger. I am not condoning the bullying. It is a horrible thing, and I have been bullied myself, but I can look back today and say “Thank you” to them because I am better because of it.

    (…)

    The world is a tough place itself.”

    *******************

    This line of “reasoning” boils down to the old “I made it through something kinda, sorta, similar and thus why can’t you?” argument. It goes along with the “I’m tough and your not,” argument. You are expressly condoning, accepting, and insuring bullying as a boost to your seemingly fragile ego. If you’re “better for it,” one shudders at how you were before.

    Btw, the most of us here have jobs–we also have consciences and compassion for vulnerable people. How about you?

  41. It will be interesting to see how this case sets any legal precedent for future cases. Once the “kids will be kids” argument goes away and it becomes a legal problem, maybe some will think twice about bullying.

    But, we still also need to focus on victim recovery and bully relearning so that a Phoebe Prince does not feel alone and without support to help her. This is an area we also must focus on to avoid the loss of life that bullying can cause.

  42. I heard this on the News this morning that this teenage girl hanged her self because of assholes kids in her school bullying her. She just move to this country 5 month ago from Ireland. This is so sad and Pissed me of. Parent Pay ATT to your children so they won’t hurt someone else or before they get hurt. Those assholes are lucky I am not Her mother. I will haunted them to death. They desereve the same. And i will show them what miserable are.

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