In the wake of the suicide of Massachusetts high school student Phoebe Prince, school administrators whine they didn’t see much damage, that Prince was too private (likely her pride, shame, humiliation — and perhaps the naive expectation adults are observant and will act accordingly) to complain and that — gasp — actually expelling the little brutes who drove her to despair with three non-stop months of verbal abuse might suffer if told to leave the school and find somewhere else to take their toxicity.
“To our knowledge the action taken was effective in ending their involvement in any bullying of Phoebe,” he said.
Prince, who had recently moved with her family from Ireland to South Hadley, hanged herself on January 14 after enduring what Northwestern District Attorney Elizabeth B. Scheibel described to reporters Monday as “a nearly three-month campaign of verbally assaultive behavior and threats of physical harm toward Phoebe, on school grounds, by several South Hadley High School students.”
Six students were named in an indictment returned by a grand jury Friday and made public Monday. In addition, Scheibel said three female students received juvenile charges, but she would not clarify if they were among the six named in the indictment.
That left even Sayer confused. “There could be as many as nine, but I believe that six” is the correct number, he said.
Though authorities did not consider that the actions or failures to act by the faculty, staff and administrators of the school amounted to criminal behavior, prosecutor Scheibel called for them to undergo training to learn to intervene more effectively in such cases.
But administrators in the school district, who oversee the education of 2,100 students in four schools, are being unfairly blamed for the death, Sayer said…
None of the six students identified in the indictment remains in school, he added.
Sayer said he supported the punishments meted out to the students.
“If they, as they have been charged, committed crimes, they should face the consequences for those crimes,” he said.
But, he added, expulsion is something educators are reluctant to countenance.
“It’s a terrible punishment because that changes their whole lives and what they are capable of doing, and they have to figure out a way to renew and complete their education.”
I was bullied for three years in high school. Bullying is toxic, damaging, sick behavior and those who who deny its power are lying to themselves and their consciences.
What greater “terrible punishment” could Prince’s parents face than the loss of their daughter?
What the bullies were “capable of”, quite clearly and effectively, was destroying the confidence — and the life — of a young girl in their midst. Renewing and completing their education might include learning the most basic of lessons — deliberately, publicly and consistently selecting a victim, and mentally torturing them, is unacceptable behavior.