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March 31, 2010

School bullying activist: I know the terror Phoebe felt

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."

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Filed under: Crime


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Joe G. (Illinois)   March 31st, 2010 5:47 pm ET

Maybe celebrities like Snoop Dogg, Jennifer Aniston, Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, J-z.. and others ought to give back to society by forming a conglomerate organization of celebrities volunteers who go around schools in search for lonely kids. Offer them free lesson on how to be popular and accepted in America Society. To kids content, heart and desires.


kathleen, 30   March 31st, 2010 6:22 pm ET

Why doesn't the schools&teachers&princpals&bus drivers&school districts across the contry try to find a way to stop the teasing and school bulling espically with the internet with my space ,ect,and the camera cell phones with the "popular"kids picking on the other kids.Cause the school districts/teachers,ect are just as at fault as the MEAN kids that pushed her over the edge to have her end her own life, and its not right nor fair for the kids that cause this girl to do this to herself to not be punished in someway all the emotional scaring that the bullys did to her by calling her mean names and other stuff,and also the teachers/princpil not stopping it either.


Gilda   March 31st, 2010 6:42 pm ET

I also feel there should have been more support for this girl out there to prevent this terrible thing from happening, I know it is hard when kids bully you in school, it happened to me and for many years left scars, although I did not have internet at that time which I am glad after some of the things I saw happen, I do know that some kids can be very nasty and hurtful, and one of the hardest things a kid goes through at a time like that is feeling alone in the whole thing, they need to be supported and told it is not their fault and the kids that torment them need to be stopped.


Expat American   March 31st, 2010 7:07 pm ET

Bullies are nothing more than cowards....face up to one on their own and they have no 'power'; none at all. Girls tend to bully their victims in groups, whereas boys tend do act out their behavior on their own. In this day and age, bullies have more options and tools such as the internet and cellular phones with which to torment their victims.

The parents are as much to blame for this tragedy. Had the parents of these bullies never had any children, Ms. Prince would be alive today....and many others in the same situation would be too.

The parents of these bullies and ‘Mean Girls’ in that small town should feel ashamed for having conceived their children. Those guilty parties do not deserve their lives back. Ms. Prince deserves hers.


LacrosseMom   March 31st, 2010 8:33 pm ET

Only those who have been bullied or had a child or sibling bullied know the pain, despair and fear of bullying. What I do not understand if WHY Phoebe or any child, for that matter, can not go directly to the school principal and report harassment?! WHY?

And WHY isn't bullying against the law? Harassment is illegal, hate crimes are illegal, assault is illegal......... why IS bullying okay?

IF parents of children who are being bullied are reading this, PLEASE, press charges with the police, don't allow your child to be the next victim we read about on CNN!


I'm right   March 31st, 2010 9:08 pm ET

School bullying? That’s a BIG PROBLEM. It's a much larger picture. Teachers and school administrations have made the parents HEADS OF SCHOOLS. Teachers have no authority and Administration will not back them up when they deal with a problem. Why? In Broward County Florida you have a bunch of wimps leading the School Board and a Wimp of a Superintendent. The teacher has no backing. SO just turn your head and bite your lip. Your hands are tied. Schools are a place of bullying and unsafe zones because of no discipline in the schools because there is little to none in the home. Rebellion reigns in the homes and flows into the schools. There is no end of this rebellious generation. God help us when the next generation takes leadership. And the next generation? Oh my God! There are more dysfunctional families than functional any more. Men have failed to be real men. Cheating on their wives, then going home like nothing is wrong. The enemy of our nation knows if he can destroy the family unit of America he can destroy America. Where once we had strong families and family values, now history in most cases. Mom raising the kids working two and three jobs because dad was out whoring around and destroyed the unity of the family. These are not men. They are scum of the earth. That’s why we have the problems we are now having in the schools. Men have failed to be fathers. They’ve never grown up to take responsibility. When there is no respect for authority in the home there will be no respect for authority in the schools when there is no respect for authority in the schools there will be none for the law. That’s where we’re at today. Even our president is from a dysfunctional family. Agree with me or not. I’m right!
II Thessalonians 2:1 Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, 2 not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. 3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. 5 Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? 6 And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. REMEMBER THIS DAY. I TELL YOU THAT YOU’VE SEEN NOTHING YET. THE WORST IS YET TO COME. THERE WILL BE SUCH LAWLESSNES ON THIS EARTH LIKE HAVE NEVER BEEN KNOW TO MAN. WHY? THE BIBLE TOLD US SO. LOOK AT ONLY JUST FIVE YEARS AGO AND LOOK AT IT TODAY. WAKE UP. THE FAMILY NEEDS TO BE RECONCILED AND RESTORED. DAD’S AND MOM’S NEEDS TO STOP WHORING AROUND AND BE THE EXAMPLE YOU SHOULD BE. STOP THRIVING ON THE STUFF, TIGER AND THE REST OF THESE POOR ROLE MODELS ARE INVOLVED IN. Philippians 4: 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.


Ray Gordon   March 31st, 2010 9:22 pm ET

You guys are attacking the wrong target. "Section 230 immunity" is what killed Phoebe Prince, Megan Meier, and will kill many more.

I'm talking about 47 USC Section 230, the law that immunizes internet providers against lawsuits for what their users do. This has bred a culture of interenet hatred that is now spilling over into the real world. the internet companies don't terminate access because they can't be sued for negligence or defamation under this awful law, one which overturned 200+ years of libel precedent.

Until Section 230 immunity is repealed, the internet willl be the gathering place for GANGS of bullies, who will ffeel empowered because no one online is putting a stop to their group rage. Believe me, if they could be sued, the first instance of bullying would cause the kids to lose their ability to text or post online, and they would stop.

The same problem exists with Google. People "google" others, believe lies they read about people, and the targets of the "google bombing" cannot sue. Internet disputes in remote areas of the internet wind up served up to employers,k friends, lovers, landlords, dates, etc., and the person has no way to defend themselves. Anyone with an axe to grind can ruin one's reputation, often without fear of a lawsuit, since they can post anonymously, and let Google do their dirtywork.

If Google wer4e liable for what was in its search engine, it would respond to "defamation takedown notices" (they'd have to be notified first to be sued, under the old law), and sanity and civility would return to the internet.

How many more kids have to DIE before peopl realize I'm right?

Ray Gordon
Too Smart To Fail
Like Too Big To Fail, Only Cheaper


lexi9650   March 31st, 2010 10:48 pm ET

I was a victim in middle school of bullying. Girls would throw things at me in gym, steal things out of my desk and bags, and even spread rumors about me. I would go home everyday and cry and wonder, "What did I ever do to these girls to make them hate me?" Finally I realize the answer, now that I have seen how they are living now and what their lives have evolved into. They were JEALOUS of me. I was a quiet wallflower, who never got into trouble and would give someone my last dollar if I knew they needed it. These girls now are in their early twenties, married unhappily or divorced, with three or more kids and living off of the government. I see them now and then and they want to smile and say hey, but all I can do is laugh and ask them what they have done with their lives.....you cannot let someone hurt you and make you feel ashamed about yourself. What gives people the right to hurt someone else?!? Kids today are too mean for their own good and when they get out into the real world, mommy and daddy won't be there to sweep up the mess!!!


MourningMJ   March 31st, 2010 11:23 pm ET

This is so tragic what happened to this young girl. She immigrated from Ireland with her family to have a better life in the U.S., and this is how the American youths demonstrate their constitutional faith. Her silent suffering was a direct result of the public ridiculing and taunting she suffered by her peers. I partly blame the school officials for failing in taking a more pro-active approach, but I also blame the guardians/parents of the bullies for failing to teach their children ethics and values. It's the guardians responsibility to continue ongoing reinforcement of positive values both in the home and in public. What a tragedy.

@RAY GORDON-
Ray, thank you so much for the information you shared on Section 280 Immunity; I was not familiar with this at all and will now do the research to educate myself further. Thank you again.

@LEXI9650- Lexi, I'm so sorry you were bullied in school as a child; I really do not believe people understand the scars this carries well into your adulthood. But it's a sad reality and you are right- alot of these bullies do end up "system dependent" because of their inability to thrive in reality.

Great posts to all of you. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.


Jessie from Auckland, NZ   April 1st, 2010 6:38 am ET

Thank you Jodee Blanco for your story........and so sorry to hear about your horrible experiences with bullying.......t.hat must have been horrific what they subjected you to. Just makes one angry alright. You have turned a negative into a positive by doing these anti-bullying programmes in schools. All the best to you.
______________________

Bullying needs to be taken very seriously by everyone. Females can be the worst bullies here too. Quite a catty lot. They must have been jealous of this poor girl Phoebe Prince........and to go to the lenghths they did is just disgusting, uncalled for behaviour. They are just cowards really. Shame on all of them. I hope they all get the help they need as well as the punishment they need.

May she rest in peace and condolences to her family and friends. .


Jessie from Auckland, NZ   April 1st, 2010 8:35 am ET

@I'm right March 31st, 2010 9:08 pm ET

School bullying? That’s a BIG PROBLEM. It's a much larger picture. Teachers and school administrations have made the parents HEADS OF SCHOOLS. Teachers have no authority and Administration will not back them up when they deal with a problem. Why? In Broward County Florida you have a bunch of wimps leading the School Board and a Wimp of a Superintendent. The teacher has no backing. SO just turn your head and bite your lip. Your hands are tied. Schools are a place of bullying and unsafe zones because of no discipline in the schools because there is little to none in the home. Rebellion reigns in the homes and flows into the schools. There is no end of this rebellious generation. God help us when the next generation takes leadership. And the next generation? Oh my God! There are more dysfunctional families than functional any more. Men have failed to be real men. Cheating on their wives, then going home like nothing is wrong. The enemy of our nation knows if he can destroy the family unit of America he can destroy America. Where once we had strong families and family values, now history in most cases. Mom raising the kids working two and three jobs because dad was out whoring around and destroyed the unity of the family. These are not men. They are scum of the earth. That’s why we have the problems we are now having in the schools. Men have failed to be fathers. They’ve never grown up to take responsibility. When there is no respect for authority in the home there will be no respect for authority in the schools when there is no respect for authority in the schools there will be none for the law. That’s where we’re at today. Even our president is from a dysfunctional family. Agree with me or not. I’m right!
____________________

You are sooooooooooooo right!!!..........and you have said it all almost too. It is a sad scenario I'm afraid. God help us all.


Art Roberts   April 1st, 2010 2:09 pm ET

All bullying in America can be immediately stopped in its tracks by simple use of the Small Claims Courts. All any student or parent needs to do is file and serve a Small Claims lawsuit only against the school for $5000 in damages because the school did not protect the student from the bullying and miracles will happen. ( Do not sue the bully – only name the bully in the school as a part of the school ) People are ignorant about the massive power of Small Claims Court. Just do it and watch what happens. I guarantee the school will quickly stop the bully. How powerful is Small Claims? I took a small claims case from that court all the way to the Supreme Court of California as an in pro per and won the case against the biggest of powers involved. Bully? No problem. Sue the school for $5000 in damages for failure to protect the student. Unfortunately most people are so ignorant, they act like mice in the face of a snake and get eaten. Oh well. Please tell America's kids and parents about Small Claims courts being so very easy to use. Simply file a Small Claims lawsuit and it sets everything up because it can't be erased or ignored. Courts can even order the police to get involved. WOW men with guns will show up to talk with the principal and the bully. Want to see miracles happen? Use the Small Claims Court. It's your right!


Walt Barnes   April 1st, 2010 2:44 pm ET

Larry,
Please help. I have a very sad story of 8 special ed. high-risk students that are dead. Please help me get this story out to the public. Please do this on behalf of my special ed. students, present and future special ed. students, and special ed. teachers. The authorities do not want to open up Pandora's Box. They are trying to cover their asses.

Walt Barnes (special ed. teacher and nurse)
20 Chelsea Circle
Clementon NJ 08021
609-828-1108


sean g   May 17th, 2010 9:30 pm ET

crime is created from the loss of jobs,and the police enforce the laws
which are in place to make it easier to do crime than it is to do the right thing.which it gives you a record for life in some incidences.and this can ruin your chances of getting a job in the future.they need to change the laws on this matter for non felons,to help erase their criminal past that people discriminately use against you on a daily basis.discriminiation is not gone its breathing heavily all around us.so for someone to say i didnt discriminate against you they are lying thru their teeth.for instance both persons have the same experience in their field of study ,but the one with the bad backbround check wont get the job.thats a form of discrimination.because if he didnt have a bad check on his record he would have had a chance.


sean g   May 17th, 2010 9:39 pm ET

its wrong to silence people and their opinion how ever true they may be.im trying to spread the faith thats in jeapordy.i kept quiet for a many of years but i cant keep it to myself no more.people need to be able to express themselves in many manors.either in photographs,or jounals they write.i have taken pictures of images that looked like jesus and one his disciples.and sent it to a online agency like ghosthunters or t.a.p.s. and they never published them and there probably lost and never to be seen by the public again.i have more pics on another cell phone of spirits in a tree ,in front is a horible accident of a car turned over on west broad street in columbus,ohio.me and my both seen with our eyes .so i have a witness to the accident but shes a skeptic on the spirits.


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