March 31, 2010
Posted: 05:16 PM ET
By Jodee Blanco, Special to CNN
Editor's note: Jodee Blanco is an activist against and authority on school bullying. She conducts anti-bullying programs and wrote "Please Stop Laughing at Me ..." and its sequel, "Please Stop Laughing at Us ..."
(CNN) - Once again, the nation is outraged that school bullying has claimed another victim. As news spread about the indictment of nine teens who are accused of relentlessly bullying 15-year-old Phoebe Prince to suicide this year, parents everywhere asked: "How could this have happened? Where were the adults?"
I couldn't help but wonder why it always takes a tragedy to get the world's attention. The suffering of millions of students all across America, some of whom are being bullied as badly as Phoebe and who have been crying out for help day after day, semester after semester, should be enough. Why are their voices not heard? What message are we sending these lonely, frustrated kids: that they might as well suffer in silence, because no one's going to take notice unless someone ends up dead?
I know what Phoebe felt as she walked the halls as a freshman at a Massachusetts school, listening to the jeers and whispers, praying she could make it to homeroom or math class in one piece.
I know the terror that descended over her like a dark cloak every time the bell rang, signaling the beginning of the school day. And I also know that as much as she must have hated her classmates for what they were putting her through, it was what they were denying her that hurt even worse: someone to sit with at lunch, the invitations to hang out on weekends and after school, the girl talk and giggles exchanged between trusted friends, the simple joy of fitting in. Before long, it pokes holes in your soul, and you can feel self-loathing start to fill in those empty spaces.
I know because, from fifth grade through high school, I was the target of relentless bullying for much the same reason Phoebe and so many other students are: simply for being "different."
Filed under: Crime
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