Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Bullying Must End
A few weeks ago, a fifteen year old Massachusetts girl who had been the victim of bullying at her high school went home and hanged herself. Phoebe Prince moved with her family from Ireland to a small town and tried to acclimate herself to all the changes and being in a new place. I imagine she was very nervous about it all and struggling to make friends. She was a pretty girl and, since she was new, got a lot of attention from the boys. This didn't make a particular gang of girls happy so they tormented her mercilessly for months. Phoebe's parents alerted school officials who did nothing.
So finally one day, Phoebe did what others failed to do. She ended it. The finality of her suicide wasn't the answer. We all know that. The grief of those who love her must be the most awful thing ever. Nine kids have been arrested for their harrassment of this young girl and today three of them will be arraigned in court. Shortly after Phoebe's death the people of Hadleyville went into 'rage mode' protested about WHY such an awful thing happened and how it had progressed so far. Why were school officials so negligent in not putting a stop to this? How could they let these kids ratchet up the bullying to the point Phoebe felt nothing but desperation and despair.
The really horrible thing is we read these stories every day. A child is teased about her weight. A boy is beaten to death because he has red hair. A mother taunts a girl on MySpace until she, too, commits suicide. Crowds of young people gather around to watch the gang rape of a young girl who is leaving a school dance. Bullying must stop and I honestly think lessons on this topic should be taught not only at home but in churches and schools. Laws are currently being enacted in many states. It's about damn time.
I've raised teenagers and I know how hard it is for them to stand up to pressure from school friends but we must be able to stress to them that it's one thing to go along with the latest fashion fad but quite another to stand idly by and watch someone be bullied. How do we stop it? There must be first steps we can take, small things we can do to make a dent in this. In our home, we were always open with our kids and they never had problems talking to us about things that happened in their lives, at school or anywhere else. My husband and I heard about incidences of bullying in our own little part of the world. Fortunately, no suicides but definitely stories of isolation and depression among these victims. That my children recognized it and fought to help made me proud. What crosses the mind of a kid who thinks this behavior is okay? I just don't get it.