March 30, 2010

9 MA teenagers charged in bullying that led to teenager's suicide

Posted: 08:19 AM ET

Nine Massachusetts teenagers have been charged with involvement in a months-long campaign of bullying that led to the suicide in January of a 15-year-old girl, a prosecutor said Monday.

Phoebe Prince's body was found hanging in the stairway leading to her family's second-floor apartment in South Hadley, Northwestern District Attorney Elizabeth D. Scheibel told reporters in the western Massachusetts town of Northampton.

"It appears that Phoebe's death on January 14 followed a torturous day for her when she was subjected to verbal harassment and physical abuse," she said.

Earlier in the day, Prince had been harassed as she studied in the library at South Hadley High School, apparently in the presence of a faculty member and several students, none of whom reported it until after the death, Scheibel said.

Prince, who had recently moved to the area with her family from Ireland, was also harassed as she walked through the halls of the school that day and as she walked on the street toward her home, Scheibel said.

The harassment that day, by one male and two females, "appears to have been motivated by the group's displeasure with Phoebe's brief dating relationship with a male student that had ended six weeks earlier," she said.

Filed under: Justice

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PUBLIC BEATINGS   March 30th, 2010 8:33 am ET

Go back to Public Beatings. There is no pain for crimes commited. Spare the rod, spoil the child. That's why we have so many teens that stink! There spoiled. I pray that these teens pay dearly for there actions.

Luis B Rosario   March 30th, 2010 8:52 am ET

HAZING or harassment by students has always been dangerous
since the school system began.It is absurd, it is irresponsible and
it can lead to tragedy. One a teacher, parent, or another student
suspects or has evidence of hazing, it should be reported
immediately and the person(s) involved should be investigated.
People involved in hazing should be disciplined , arrested or
thrown out of school depending on the circumstances and the
preponnderance . The seriousness of the incident and corroborating
evidence should determine a reprimand, discipline or more severre
penalties for the aggressor(s). This type of aggression cannot
be ignored.

verona ebanks   March 30th, 2010 9:29 am ET

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Stacey   March 30th, 2010 9:58 am ET

Bully is a serious situation... Really it's no different from murder... People think that it is nothing, but seeing the outcome of this tragdey, it shows it's not nothing... Kids nowadays are horrible... Bullying is really just jealousy coverd up.... It needs to stop so it doesn't take another child's life... The teachers, and parents need to be looking out of things like this, for signs... This child's life could have been saved.... Bullying cannot and should not be ignored anymore... Most people look the other way because they think nothing bad can come up with it.... That's just plain stupidity... A person should not be afraid to go to school, because they are going to get bullied, harassed and abused... School is suppose to be a safe place...

Expat American   March 30th, 2010 10:20 am ET

This saddens me and makes me sick. I hope that one day these bullies face justice for what they've done; their names and pictures along with a detailed description of what they did should be sent to any college they want to attend, any future job they apply for, etc... Let the world know who and what they truly are. Is this defamation of character? To that I answer that no amount of defamation to the 'character' of these 9 teens is equal to the life of their victim.

lola   March 30th, 2010 12:27 pm ET

The teachers, parents and others that looked away are just as guilty as those that tormented this poor girl. By doing nothing, they had a hand in her demise.

Theresa   March 30th, 2010 12:41 pm ET

It is too bad that more people wouldn't consider bullying a crime. Look what it can lead to. Too many times the bullying children learn their tactics from their parents...& their parents would be the 1st in line sue if someone bullied their child. Bullying has been around forever but with the internet,etc. it is available 24/7 !!!!Nothing is ever done until something like this young girl's suicide happens. How sad this young girl felt there were no other alternatives. Her parents went to the school to see what help they could get...NOTHING was done by the sounds of it. My nephew who was born with a hereditary condition ...osteogenesis imperfecta...bones fracture easily, maximum height is under 5 ft. My nephew was in his 1 st yr. of high school he was 13 yr. old( he was very bright ,had accelerated a grade) he was the size of an average 8 or 9 yr. old.. Some bullies thought he would be a great candidate for their hurtful,cruel actions & rhetoric. They used to slam him into the lockers was a miracle he didn't fracture any body part related to these incidents. My nephew refused to inform his parents...he wanted to handle his situation. I guess this continued for the entire yr. My sister couldn't figure out why he always came home for lunch. & wouldn't comment about his activities of school. It wasn't until the next yr. she found out about the entire situation. Someone complimented my nephew how he had persevered that 1 st yr. of high school. My sister was informed the best football player befriended my nephew & informed the bullies if their behaviour continued they would have to deal with the best football playerwho was broad shouldered, lifted weights, & weighed about 200 pounds. From that moment on my nephew had his own personal bodyguard & started living the teenage life he always envisioned. I nver met that young ,football star but all I would say to him if I had ever met him was THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart...there are wonderful youth on this's only the negative ones you hear about. Thank goodness ...calm ,firm words were spoken instead of hateful,hurting words & NO violence occurred.

still me just a new name   March 30th, 2010 12:58 pm ET

Just like tobacco, guns and drugs are not tolerated in the schools... bullying should be addressed and labeled just as damaging and deadly to our young people...

mathgenius   March 30th, 2010 1:08 pm ET

It's really disturbing that these things are done right in front of teachers, and the teachers do nothing about it. It reminds me of an incident when I was in high school. Every day in class, a bully was hitting a girl right in front of the teacher. The teacher just pretended she didn't see it.

John H   March 30th, 2010 1:27 pm ET

Nine months this went on! A faculty member was present that same day and how many days previously were faculty members present. Bullies often intimidate witnesses who know if they report the activity, they will likely be the next victim. It is even so bad that many faculty members and adults are intimidated and afraid to confront the bullies. Chances are the parents of the bullies would deny their child was responsible and even try to intimidate authorities. The acorn never falls far from the tree. Severe penalties have to be dealt out to the guilty. The should find out what it means to be in fear of coming to school.

Dodie   March 30th, 2010 1:59 pm ET

A half year campaign of physical and verbal abusive behavior by 9 teen tormentors often viewed and in front of school faculty is outrageous! The day she committed suicide, she had been accosted and tormented verbally in the library with a faculty member present!

The symptoms of this schism were obvious. The proclivity is inherent of the human condition which is to internalize the anger, and then vent the pent-up rage on a more vulnerable vessel such as Phoebe Prince. This is often the root cause of bigotry and racism The birthplace of this rage is the family or lack of one, often derived from an abuse parent.

Projection assumes many forms. When you’re on the receiving end of a parent's pent-up anger as a teen, who is the weaker target, in the face of torment will usually internalize their reaction to the parent. Thus, the anger resides within that child. Like the cycle of violence, this anger is thrusted outward onto a perceived weaker victim, in this case Phoebe Prince; hence, the cycle continues.

It is very sad that there was no intervention by any of the school staff!

Dodie   March 30th, 2010 2:49 pm ET

@ Theresa

What a beautiful story about your nephew. I am delighted someone had enough fortitude to do an intervention. He was very fortunate.

Deb n Texas   March 30th, 2010 4:37 pm ET

That story is so sad, however, I am waiting for the principal, teachers or who ever (adults) at the school with knowledge of this be arrested also. No child should have to contend with abuse like this – even if the child would have survived this she would have had to carry the thought of those monsters for the rest of her life. May her soul rest in peace!

This is it!   April 5th, 2010 12:14 am ET

This is a tragedy...our children need to stop this bullying hurts lives on very deep levels as we can see from this case of bullying!!

Jose   April 8th, 2010 2:07 pm ET

There should be a system in place in high schools, were students should be warned about the tragedies that bullying can cause. Schools should be more proactive about this situation since it occurs on a daily basis.

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