Teen bullying results in suicide
March 30, 2010
NORTHAMPTON, Mass. — - Insults and threats followed 15-year-old Phoebe Prince almost from her first day at South Hadley High School, targeting the Irish immigrant until the day she took her life.
Phoebe, ostracized for having a brief relationship with a popular boy, reached her breaking point and hanged herself after one especially hellish day in January — a day that, according to officials, included being hounded with slurs and pelted with a beverage container as she walked home from school.
Now, nine teenagers face charges in what a prosecutor called "unrelenting" bullying, including two boys charged with statutory rape and a clique of girls charged with stalking, criminal harassment and violating Phoebe's civil rights.
School officials will not be charged, even though authorities said that they knew about the bullying and that Phoebe's mother raised her concerns with at least two of them.
Northwestern District Attorney Elizabeth Scheibel, who announced the charges Monday, said the events before Phoebe's death on Jan. 14 were "the culmination of a nearly three-month campaign of verbally assaultive behavior and threats of physical harm" widely known among the student body.
"The investigation revealed relentless activity directed toward Phoebe, designed to humiliate her and to make it impossible for her to remain at school," Scheibel said. "The bullying, for her, became intolerable."
Scheibel said the case is still under investigation and that one other person could be charged.
Scheibel said the harassment began in September, occurring primarily in school and in person, although some of it surfaced on Facebook and in other electronic forms.
At least four students and two faculty members tried to stop it or report it to administrators, she said.
Schiebel refused to discuss the circumstances of the rape charges.
No school officials are being charged because they had "a lack of understanding of harassment associated with teen dating relationships," and the school's code of conduct was interpreted and enforced in an "inconsistent" way, Scheibel said.
"Nevertheless, the actions — or inactions — of some adults at the school are troublesome," she said.
A message seeking comment was left Monday for South Hadley Superintendent Gus A. Sayer.
Phoebe was born in Bedford, England, and moved to County Clare, Ireland, when she was 2. She moved last summer to South Hadley, home to Mount Holyoke College, because the family had relatives there.
Her family has since moved and could not be located for comment. Scheibel spoke for them at a news conference to announce the charges.
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What about when home owning, and business owning, citizens are bullied by police? Is that reported in the mainstream media?: