March 30th, 2010
04:53 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Teen Bullied to Death?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/CRIME/03/30/massachusetts.bullying.suicide/story.phoebe.prince.cnn.jpg
caption="Phoebe Prince, 15, who had recently moved from Ireland, committed suicide in January in Massachusetts." width=300 height=169]

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

Nine Massachusetts teenagers, seven girls and two boys, are charged with driving a 15-year-old classmate to kill herself.

Last fall, Phoebe Prince moved from County Clare Ireland to the western Massachusetts town of South Hadley. She had a new home, a new school - a new life. Like any other 15-year-old, she just wanted to fit in. But that didn't happen.

According to reports, she was called an Irish slut. The name-calling never stopped and neither did the harassment, according to Northwestern District Attorney Elizabeth D. Scheibel.

"Their conduct far exceeded the limits of normal teenage relationship-related quarrels. The investigation revealed relentless activity directed toward Phoebe designed to humiliate her and make it impossible for her to remain at school," Scheibel said at a news conference yesterday where she announced the indictments.

The prosecutor says Phoebe spent her last day alive tormented by some classmates at school. She says some of the bullies then taunted and threatened her as she walked home. It ended when Phoebe hanged herself in a closet in the stairway leading to her family's apartment. Her 12-year-old sister found her.

Three of the nine classmates charged in connection with Phoebe's death will be tried as adults. That includes 17-year-old Kayla Narey who faces various charges, including criminal harassment. But the two boy, Sean Mulveyhill, 17, and Austin Renaud, 18, also will be tried in adult court and they are both charged with statutory rape.

Several of the accused students are still at school.

Last night, the school district said it was still waiting for prosecutors to provide more evidence in the case.

"Once we are able to obtain this information we will be able to make a more comprehensive statement and possibly take further action against the students still attending South Hadley High School," the school district's Assistant Superintendent Christine Sweklo said in a statement.

We're keeping them honest. Did school officials do enough to protect Phoebe? Tonight you'll hear from Barbara Coloroso, an expert on school bullying who consulted with the school district last year. Anderson will also talk with Dr. Phil McGraw, psychologist, best-selling author and host of the national syndicated show "Doctor Phil".

Join us for this story and much more starting at 10 p.m. ET. See you then.

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
soundoff (214 Responses)
  1. Sam Frankhouser

    Stopping bullying sounds simple. Tell the administrator at the school or the college and it will stop! As a former School Principal and Associate Dean of Students, I tried to stop bullying each and everytime. Students promised to stop, students were talked to by guidance counselors or school psychologists, offending students parents were notified, and some were suspended. But, even with all of this, some of the students then took their bullying out of the school context.........home email, off campus texting, social networking sites, weekend verbal attacks, home vandalism, etc. Some parents even said that if bullying is done away from the school or college, and not during normal school hours (for high schools), the school/college shouldn't care. When this happened, I alway recommended that the local police be involved. Letting the police intervene and determine if charges were appropriate seemed to work to some extent. However, many police departments see bullying "as something kids do" and in the grand scheme of things not something that warrants police involvement. In some cases police involvement ended the bullying. In others it did not! In some cases police involvement made parents so angry that they asked their kids to get other kids to do the bullying. I even recommended that parents of the students being bullied file their own charge at the office of the District Magistrate. Most school/college administrator will do all, or most, of what I have have said. Stopping the worst, negative, life changing types of bullying is NOT simple. All the school administrators I know try in every possible way to end each and every case of bullying. School administrators cannot do alone! Parents, students, teachers, police, community groups, the courts, the media, churches, neighborhood clubs, and just about anyone who cares about the welfare of students need to do their part. Stopping bullying is not simple, but it must be a priority for many others besides school/college administrators. Working together, we can diminish and ultimately end bullying.

    March 30, 2010 at 11:05 pm |
  2. william morrison

    As a school administrator for 31 years (Principal 29), bullying was dealt with swiftly and with success- but there was a great difference when I was a Principal – I was in charge and could act with fairness and with a clear knowledge that all students must be respected regardless of their individual differences; I along with all staff in the building knew that we had a responsibility to every student.
    Today school principals are not the final authority, they must check with central office staff who actually muddle the process and delay action to demonstrate to students that there will be consrquences. This will be dealt with by establishing laws, which will help, but the real answer is with school leaders who accept their responsibility and act to stop this abuse. Also, Anderson, I am positive that teachers and administrators knew what was going on in the school and outside the school; and if they did not know they aren't worth their salt!
    Also, you haven't dug deep enough. What about the parents? What about extended family? What about custodians? What about bus drivers? What about cafeteria staff? What the Guidance department?
    Keep on digging?

    March 30, 2010 at 11:05 pm |
  3. Carrie

    Once again, when are you going to hold the parents RESPONSIBLE !

    March 30, 2010 at 11:03 pm |
  4. Malinda

    The bullies of schools are allowed to do what they want, with no fear of any kind of punishment for it. My son is dealing with bullies on just about a daily basis. I've gone to the school to report it and all they do is talk to the children. The children are allowed to carry on as they always have and my son is treated worse. My son was in the bathroom when one of the bullies came in there with his thugs, wanting to fight my son. My son was alone and anything could have happened and all the school would have said is we are sorry. Sorry just doesn't cut it, there has got to be something done nationwide in our schools, and the schools should be held accountable for their lack of concern. Children who are be bullied feel there is no where to turn and they don't know what to do about the situation. When our children go to school they should not have to deal with such bullies, teachers turning their heads, or the department heads showing lack of concern for the students who are being bullied.

    March 30, 2010 at 11:02 pm |
  5. Briana Minnesota

    My daughter was also bullied. Unfortunately; it was her best friend who was the leader. My daughter had so many rumors floating around about her that it almost destroyed her. It was hard to know who was starting the rumors even though we had a good idea who was doing it. After notes relating to death were found in the school; the administration wanted two girls expelled; but left it up to my daughter. She unfortunately had no self-esteem to follow through on this; she felt that she was responsible for being too sensitive. Thankfully with the love of a caring family we were able to see her through this. In this case the bullying was because of competition. Competition for grades, sports, friends, boyfriends. I'm not sure how to stop this bullying because the students themselves deny that it is a big deal because they don't want to stand out as being a snitch. As a parent I've tried to tell them to steer away from that person but if they go to a small school that is virtually impossible. The only way that I can think of to help would be to have an anonymous e-mail program to the school counselor / administration to have the students report people being bullied. I would hope that false accusations wouldn't come out of this method.

    March 30, 2010 at 10:59 pm |
  6. chris williamson

    First we need to stop calling it "bullying". I feel whenever it is used that word trivializes the act of harassment or assault on another person. If an adult were to do the same, that person would be arrested and thrown in jail for harassment or assault. I agree completely with Dr. Phil, child on child violence needs to become "uncool", yet I think that won't happen in the near future. The "cool" thing now and for the past couple of decades, at least, is to be a thug, a gangsta. Violence is glorified, the parents, schools, the entertainment media, are equally to blame for this explosion of violence.. Violence is condoned on tv. Why is not violence treated the same way as sexual behavior on tv? Society has it's head screwed on backwards and until parents, teachers, the media decide to actually take action and "un-glorify" violence, there will be more Phoebe Princes dying by the hands of their sadistic abusers.

    March 30, 2010 at 10:59 pm |
  7. Deb in MA

    Bullying is a very complex subject that involves a whole lot of participatns. You've got those who don't want to get involved becaue they are afraid of being treated the same way and as a result, allow, by inaction, for the actions against the bullied person to become normalized.

    You've got those who are participating and know its wrong but do it because they want to be accepted.

    You've got kids who aren't talking to their folks and when parents try to dig deeper, give smoke screens or no information at all.

    You've got parents who fail to set limits, who need to work and are often are not at home to hear the stories about what went on during the school day.

    You've got the administrator who have been beat up by parents for tryng to take action on previous matters and who are now unable to take action but talk a good story but are totally unwilling to take the "right" action steps.

    You have teachers who are so fed up with being asked to raise kids and put up with punk behavior that its all they can do to try and teach them never mind pay attention to their social behaivor and when they do, the administration doesn't follow through.

    I am the parent of three teenagers who keeps very strict boundaries and curfews, and makes the time (operative word: makes) to have family dinners every night. I make the time to looks at home work, talk about school work and about what's going on in school and in the library, in the lunch room, in the classroom. I ask the kids why they are or aren't hanging out with others and poke at hints of stories so as to provide guidance at the hint of a difficult situation because they will have them.

    These are miltidimentional humans who are thinking through some very complext matters and working throughh their personalities. they need assistance and they need guidence in person, on line and from a distance.

    How does something like this happen? How do kids continue to make such aweful choices? Are there Boy Scouts in the crowd? How much TV are these kids watching? Are they paying attention in school or are they punks?

    This behavior is horrendous and as Jack Johnson says, "... everyone's got blood on their hands...." Its everyone's problem, we need to assess everyone's role in this young girl's death. Its just not that simple.

    March 30, 2010 at 10:58 pm |
  8. Mark

    It would be interesting to see the paper work trail at the school. All school personel need training. Teachers, bus drivers, cafeteria staff, custodians & PARENTS!!!

    March 30, 2010 at 10:56 pm |
  9. Jeff

    Phoebe's story is tragic indeed. Unfortunately her experience is mirrored in schools and communties across the nation everyday. Children being "bullied" and harrassed by their peers is not new to our society; it has been going on for years. Sadly it has taken something like Phoebe's suicide to bring attention to the issue it needs and deserves.

    I speak as one who is a survivor of intense bullying and harrassment directed to me from some of my middle school and high school peers. My life was changed because of these experiences. Although I have a lot of respect for many of my educator's, some who years later are still friends, I will never forget the day I needed the help of one of my teacher's and he turned his back to the situation. We cannot turn our backs. The effects that bullying has on our children is tremendous. We cannot dismiss the issue and claim that our children will tell us if they are being harrassed. Shame prevents those being taunted from discussing it with others, including friends, parents, and those who are of emotional significance. As a society we must educate ourselves to the signs that become present from those who bully and those who are bullied and then address those issues.

    Because of my experience, I have often thought about what the answers are to help eliminate these behaviors from our schools and communities? I do not pretend to have the answers to the crisis. I have come to understand however, that both the victim and the perpetrator need help.

    Hopefully this public discussion of the issue will be a forum to help bring understanding of the magnitude of the problem and to the complexity of the issue. Together we can begin to make a difference and help assure that all children have an opportunity to be educated in safe and secure environments.

    RIP Phoebe...May your story help others know the pain and torment that bullying causes and may your story help our society make a commitment for change.

    March 30, 2010 at 10:55 pm |
  10. Roslyn. Boise, ID

    Perhaps a school "hearing" – a court of peers supervised by school administrators teachers – would provide a public teachable and humbling moment to these bullies. Put the school administrators and teachers through a public hearing, too. The parents and community served by this school need to consider their ownership towards eliminating the bullying culture.

    March 30, 2010 at 10:52 pm |
  11. peggy gouras

    Anderson, I am a teacher and very aware of the tragedy of bullying. Phoebes death is senseless and my prayers are with her parents.
    I heard the best anti bullying information the other day. A wise mother kisses her children when she drops them off for school and her last bit of advice to them is to watch out for the little guy. That night at dinner they go around the table and discuss their day and report who the little guy was and how they defended them. Sometimes they report that they were the little guy. Discussion leads tools on how to handle this. This should be a national movement Tell moms to drop their children off with the words, watch out for the little guy. These few words could become a national movement. and could eliminate bullying. Please take this ball and run with it.

    March 30, 2010 at 10:44 pm |
  12. Lim, MY

    There're so many aspects of bullying that makes it so enduring. If anything, it doesn't help that there's a legacy of parents saying it's part of growing up or it's a right of passage. That if it doesn't kill you it'll make you stronger. That if you complain, you're a wuss.

    Oft times bullies aren't attending school to learn at all, picking on others to fill out their homework for them instead. Expelling them would free up one seat for a kid who really needs it, and take an anxious load off everyone else's mind.

    School is for learning, not rolling with punches.

    March 30, 2010 at 10:44 pm |
  13. melissa in nj

    My prayers are with Phoebes' family. What is wrong with kids today. They are becoming more violent than when I was growing up. From what I read ,one of the comments made by a parent of one of the accused said to a reporter" you don't know the whole story." What story, a young girl died because of the abuse and rape from these animals. It is obvious that this parent is blaming this young girl for what happened to her. Would this parent say the same thing if it were their child that was abused and raped? Whats wrong with this parent or any parent who lets their child bully or denys that their child is not capable of bullying. Its always easy to blame the victim. I hope these animals get what they deserve.Whats worse is that even when these animals heard about her death, they still wrote horrible things about her on her memorial page.They feel no remorse for what they did. As for the school this young girl attended, they are 100% responsible for her death. They knew about the bullying and did nothing. Any school that continuously lets bullying happen should be held accountable.

    March 30, 2010 at 10:43 pm |
  14. Lin

    First, Irish immigrant parents may well not be aware of some of their options in dealing with school bullies, so I certainly don't blame the parents of this young girl. However, along with these killer punks, I do blame their parents and the school for not doing enough to stop it. But when I read:
    "Once we are able to obtain this information we will be able to make a more comprehensive statement and possibly take further action against the students still attending South Hadley High School," the school district's Assistant Superintendent Christine Sweklo said in a statement.
    I want to scream. What more evidence does this woman need to suspend these students?! A student is dead! Bullying of any kind is never acceptable – anywhere!! This lovely girl's blood is on the hands of anyone who did nothing to protect her, who looked the other way, and most of all, who made her life a living hell.
    Reminds me of what we're seeing from some of our Republican members of Congress these days, on the streets with protestors, and the anonymous bullying on websites.

    March 30, 2010 at 10:41 pm |
  15. Lynne

    This story broke my heart. My son was horribly bullied while living in the idealic, upscale, tree lined community named after a river in central NJ. [ Well, some people thought it was named after a river, I am convinced the township was named after the women of the town – shrews]. One teacher reported the abuse to the school's administration. The teacher told them that the abuse my son endured would be difficult for an adult to tolerate. How old was my son – 7 years old!!!!!! Guess what the administration did – NOTHING. One kid called my kid a name EVERY TIME he passed him. The principal said it was kid stuff. I asked the principal if she would want to come to work and have her office staff call her a name every time she walked by. She LAUGHED.

    Know what we did? We sold my dream home and moved to another town. We lost a ton of money on the move but it was worth every penny.

    I was appalled how school administrators turned their back on my little boy. When we pursued the matter, our house was vandalized.
    It was so scarey. The parents insisted their children had the right to torment my child, free speech and all that. And, many were regular church attendees. What hypocrites!!!!

    I have hoped that bullying would become an issue for years. I hope the time is ripe for America to change it's attitude about bullying and recognize it for what it is – violence. It's so heartbreaking to think of all the innocent children who have suffered while so many adults stood by and dismissed their pain. What is wrong with teachers and school officals? Why haven't they stood up before?

    Anderson, PLEASE don't let this story be just a one or two day headline. Children need someone to bring this abuse to the forefront – please, please, keep on this story.

    March 30, 2010 at 10:41 pm |
  16. Yinka

    This breaks my heart... The school administration should be held accountable (individually and collectively) and so should the parents of the bullies. This is what happens when children have no respect for others – peers and authority figures. Everyone involved should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law to send a clear message that such acts will no longer be tolerated. Bullying is not cool, it is cowardly. People who decide to have children must be made to realize that childrearing is a very serious responsibility. Is Phoebe's life worth any less than the life of any of her bullies? What do we say to her parents, her siblings, her friends? This has to stop now before we have another Columbine on our hands! Have we learnt nothing yet?

    March 30, 2010 at 10:38 pm |
  17. Jim

    Having seen one of my children survive bullying during her junior high days (she is grown up now and a mother ) I can make the following comments – If your child does try to intervene to protect someone from bullying the pack will soon turn on them, often with the original victim joining with the pack – It must be the age.

    There was one particular boy who went out of his way to bully my dsughter. The school at that time felt sorry for him as he was having "family problems". This bullying did not stop until I told the school that the next time this boy bothered my child the police would be called as I had no faith in the schools ability to protect my child.

    The bully of today will be the bully of tomorrow. Our job is to protect every child from such people. This is what is wrong with todays society – we give all kinds of excuses to those that act out rather than ensuring that the environment we all have to live in is safe enough so there will be no victims.

    March 30, 2010 at 10:37 pm |
  18. peggy gouras

    Anderson, this is tragic. I am a teacher and I just heard the best anti bullying statement that could and should become a national campaign. A wise and wonderful mother starts antibullying early. When she drops her children off for school after she kisses them, she says watch out for the little guy. At dinner that night they go around the table sharing who the little guy was and how they defended them Sometimes they share that they were the little guy and discussion includes how to handle that. Whoever reads this, please make sure this gets to someone who can share this. This cruel senseless behavior of bullying must end. I read some research that followed bullies and their bullying behavior continues until adulthood and leads to isolation by peers. Thanks for getting the antibullying words out.

    March 30, 2010 at 10:37 pm |
  19. Matt

    This has been going on at South Hadley High for years. They have been sweeping things under the rug, such as football players on steroids, and even heroin. School Committee members have resigned because it was so deplorable. Teachers are mandatory reporters, and the fact they knew of the situation and didn't do anything to stop the constant bullying she endured. I hope those who stood bye and did nothing feel like the weak sheep they are!!

    March 30, 2010 at 10:36 pm |
  20. Cecelia

    Phebe Prince was a victum of assault. There are federal laws to prevent a hostile work environment the administration of Phobe Prince's school should also be accountable under this regulation. My child was a victum of daily physical asaults in 1996-7 in high school in Minnesota. I spoke with the Vice Principal and he shrugged it off as high school pranks until I informed him that I would go to the police department have them investigate the assaults if nothing was done to stop it within the school. The administration stepped up to the plat and the assaults stopped.

    March 30, 2010 at 10:35 pm |
  21. Patti

    My family is from Canada. Since my husband and I are fortunate enough to have retired early and therefore spend our winters in Arizona. Our daughter was enrolled in a school down here for grades 6 and 7. In grade 7, she was severely bullied. When I informed the principal of what was going on, he said he'd get a school councillor to speak to her and teach her how to deal with bullying and said he couldn't do anything because we had no proof. After 2 weeks no one had spoken to our daughter. In that 2 week period of time one of the bathroom stalls at school had been totally vandalized with degrading remarks about our daughter. During spring break she received over 75 horrible emails so I printed them off and showed them to the principal. He said he really couldn't punish the kids because the emails weren't sent from school computers. He spoke to the kids who'd sent the emails, but the result was now the kids were more careful about being caught bullying. The day after the kids were spoken to, one of the mothers called me to tell me that if her kid had issues with mine, she fully supported her daughters actions. I was absolutely shocked.

    I feel so badly for this poor young girl and feel that until schools take this sort of behavior seriously and parents held more accountable for their children's behavior, this kind of thing will continue to happen. It's sad to realize that a parents mentality can often be reflected in their child's behavior. If laws were stronger against bullying perhaps people would think twice before supporting this kind of sick behavior.

    March 30, 2010 at 10:34 pm |
  22. Diego Rios - Boston

    It's very sad and this has to STOP...I wonder how many lives needs to be taken before law makers take strong action

    March 30, 2010 at 10:34 pm |
  23. Le

    It is outragious that the school administration is not being held legally responsible for this! Who in the administration has ties (maybe political) that are protecting them?? The school SHOULD have protected that student. It was their responsibility. If our children are required to go to school then the school should be Required to protect our children. It's disgusting that adults stand by passively dismissing such behavior. What message are they sending the bullies?! What are they teaching the students about life?! It will be a Great Dishonor if the school administration is not prosecuted in this case!

    The students charged should be penalized to the extent of the law to send out the message to other students/bullies and their parents that choices/actions have consequences and you can't treat people with such disregard. Bullies have caused many deaths in our children and many years of grueling emotional baggage for their surviving victims as it doesn't end in the mind upon graduating...it stays with you for years and years. I'm close to 50 years old and still have nightmares of my school years where I was bullied from grade school through high school with no teachers/adults coming to my rescue. I know there are many, many people out there who know what I'm talking about so let's stand against it! We ALL need to make a stand against wrong behavior.

    These hateful acts of violence need to stop!

    March 30, 2010 at 10:34 pm |
  24. ellen

    Anderson, I just watched your report on the girl who recently hung herself because of being bullied. I saw Dr. Phil say that teachers don't take their jobs for money but because they care about the kids. I'm sorry to say that that is not exactly true. I know a lot of teachers that only care about their pay checks and their jobs. Especially in these days of the financial and job crisis. I just recently was part of two law suits against a school for a sexual abuse case concerning a employee and children by a teacher, and also an employee abuse. There were many other teachers that knew these things were going on by another teacher and yet they would not come forward. I've always wondered how these cases that come forward where a teacher has been abusing children for years and no one knew about it ever happened. I now know through experience that that's not true. Lots of people know about it they just don't want to lose their jobs. I came forward and so did someone else and we now don't have jobs and the ones we told on are still there working. We, for coming forward took the loss and they loss nothing and are still on the job. I can't believe that this happened and I feel very frustrated for myself and the children at that school and for the teachers that felt they could not come forward because of fear of retaliation and their jobs. I lossed my case. But believe me it happens. I know by personal experience.

    March 30, 2010 at 10:34 pm |
  25. Funbi

    I am saddened by the news of the loss of so many young lives. It breaks my heart because I was once relentlessly bullied by my classmates. When I moved to the United States from Africa at the age of 12, I was excited to begin my new life. Little did I know that this new life would be full of torment by so many. I did not fit in with my classmates as I had an accent, dressed "wierd" and looked different. I was called names, pushed around, and worst of all – no one ever wanted me to be a part of their group. It wasnt always easy getting my family to understand what I was going through but I tried.

    After realizing that I couldnt beat my bullies, I decided to join them. I changed my name to something people could pronounce, I began dressing like them, I began talking like them, and I hung out with them. This was my way of surviving, as unfortunate as it may seem. Now as an adult, I still feel like the outcast. Bullyin leaves scars that lasts forever and I am forever a victim. Something has to be done about this.

    March 30, 2010 at 10:33 pm |
  26. Marilyn

    This poor girl came to a new country and a new school. Obviously she was on the outside of the already developed "clicks", and an easy target for the "gang". Maybe she was too attractive to some of the males, which apparently initiated the bullying among those threatened by the competition. Whatever motivated this horrible activity, it seems to be quite evident that there were others, including adults, aware of this behavior long before the tragic end. I think it's time our teachers and administrators across the nation address this issue strongly with a "no tolerance" program. This tragedy should not have happened. Those who did not do anything, but had the authority to stop it, should be exposed and possibly be eliminated from the education system.

    March 30, 2010 at 10:33 pm |
  27. Michelle Aartun

    Shame on the school, teachers, and kids that bullied this poor girl. I can relate am thankful I did not take this route. I did think about it because I was so miserable at the time. Heavy thoughts for a young mind that have formed me and my personality today.

    I dealt with harassment when I was in grade school and into middle school. Even two teachers participated with the kids and they picked/teased me just so they could belong with the in crowd kids. Many kids and teachers looked on as it took place. When I reported it at one point I even got blamed by the assistant principal for initiating/inviting the teasing/taunting/bullying. The group of 5 girls bullying against me-two of which did not even know me before that day. Then assistant principal said "you had to do something to get them to do this" or "you had to have said something" Finally one of the bullies felt bad for me and said I did not do anything. I felt like on trial. There was no apology from the assistant principal and nothing was done regarding this. This was one amongst many times I was bullied. My only crime was that I was nerd that was too quiet, too shy, and did not defend myself. So, I was the punching bag of their own issues going on in their lives. Something needs to be done before more young lives are lost.

    March 30, 2010 at 10:32 pm |
  28. Liz Bostick

    With all due respect to Dr. Phil, Barbara Coloroso wrote a remarkable and profoundly moving book about bullying and the effect that it has on individuals and communities from schools to workplaces to the internet. I wrote on this topic in February and cited the case of Phoebe Prince after reading about it in People. Sadly, South Hadley High School is no stranger to students bullying other students. It is a widespread problem–and it requires the attention of everyone in its midst. Sadly, the students and faculty will likely be excused of ignoring this most serious issue and turn away in short order from the tragic death of a beautiful young woman. Perhaps teenagers are allowed too much-looks prevail over commonality (we are in this together) and "boys" seem to continue to rule "girls" in the minds of adults–passed on to their "children" who really are–committing murder.

    March 30, 2010 at 10:32 pm |
  29. Levi

    I have a 17 year old daughter who has put up with being bullied for about 2 & 1/2 years now...not that she can't physically fight back, but because she understands we send her to school to learn and not wage war with the bullies...even so, the line was drawn today, when a bully student punched her in the back of her head at school. My wife and I took action and involved the Police Department....my question is....why did it take us to bring in Law Enforcement....why didn't the school staff involve the police? This 'bully' has been reported a number of times to the school staff, and she was still allowed to carry on with the bullying of other students in the school.....

    March 30, 2010 at 10:32 pm |
  30. dee dee

    I had the same type of situation when my son transfered to a new school.He got beat up on the bus, and even though the bus driver filed a report the school did nothing. I was refered to the police dept. and they needed to know exactly where the bus was at the time of the incident so the right village dept. could file the report.What a hassle.After calling the principal every day ,he had the audacity to ask me what my son did to deserve it.I went crazy, my son never had been aggressive.I finally refused to send him to school if they could not promise he would be safe. The principal said he would take care of it " and slammed the phone down.I feel the bullies should have been kicked off the bus .It is a privlege not a 'right'.The parents of these kids should have to take their kids to school if they can't behave.I honestly feel the school officials are just too lazy to get involved.

    March 30, 2010 at 10:32 pm |
  31. James J. Rubin

    Always enjoy your balanced and well-produced news hour, but having Dr. Phil presented as an expert of any kind, especially with regards to such a horrible tragedy as the young girl's death due to bullying, is an insult to your viewers, and to whatever lessons may be learned from Phoebe's suicide.

    I am a mental health counselor who has worked with both SMI and SA adolescents and adults in various hospital and community settings. Among professionals within the interdisciplinary teams with whom I have worked, the name "Dr. Phil" usually gets eyes rolling. At Johns Hopkins University, where I was educated, his name was good for laughs.

    I realize that your show is a televised news hour and may sometimes resort to celebrity guests for certain news items, but I think the horrible tragedy of this young girl's death deserved far more intelligent discourse than that provided by Dr. Phil. What he had to say in the first ten minutes of your show added nothing to the discussion about how to better educate schools regarding bullying, and how to design programs geared toward adolescents that might help them to develop some minimal, beginning stages of empathy. There is always a way to reach them, maybe by connecting some unpleasant experience they've had to compare the impact of their behavior on someone else.

    In the future, keep Dr. Phil around for juicy celebrity stories, e.g., Sandra Bullock's divorce. Please find more qualified experts, though they may be less famous or less photogenic, to provide meaningful commentary and suggestions about tragedies such as this.

    March 30, 2010 at 10:32 pm |
  32. crystal

    no matter what and who's to blame the basic fact remains tat there was a young life lost in this foolish mess. I know as parents and caregivers we want to protect and shield these kids from harm but we can't all we can really do is teach our children ow to be good human beings and then set them free them rest is up to them. It's apparent here that these kids parents failed in every way I say lock them up

    March 30, 2010 at 10:31 pm |
  33. Gina

    Yes, thank you to the law for taking a stand and for making these kids and their parents take responsibility. As a mother of a bullied child I am grateful for those in authority who listen and take action. My son was pushed into the bathroom and punched in the stomach. The principal had the perpetrators miss lunch recess the next day?

    March 30, 2010 at 10:30 pm |
  34. Samantha

    Teachers don't need education about bulling, Dr. Phil. Teachers know what they are doing – they know right form wrong!! Look to the administrators of these schools to find fault. If the schools were held criminally responsible if found negligent – perhaps future children will be saved. School administrators are akin to the powers-that-be in the catholic church – hide and deny in the hope that no one will discover the truth!!

    Lets put outside sources in the schools to overlook bullying – inspectors that have no affiliation to particular districts.

    March 30, 2010 at 10:30 pm |
  35. Lynn

    I live in a little town in Pennsylvania, and my 10yo is being bullied. She hates going to school and it is a fight every morning just to get her there. I had to literally drag her to school one morning just to get her to her classroom. She sat and cried until it spilled out about this bully. I had no idea until that point. Since then the teacher has been told twice about this and she has said that the principal is involved.

    The sad thing about this is that in this school district, each child has 19 chances before they get "really punished". Some punishments include missing recess for 2 days or not being allowed to eat lunch with their friends. I wonder when we say enough is enough. I don't believe that a child deserves 19 chances to bully someone. This child has even admitted to bullying my child and one other girl in her class. Now the bully has a friend that is doing the bullying and it seems like the whole process is starting over again.

    When do we push farther than the school's bullying policy?

    March 30, 2010 at 10:30 pm |
  36. marcia48

    teen bullies grow up to be adult bullies if they do not receive the psychological help they need. the people that bullies target are often labeled as being mentally ill because no-one wants to believe this disgusting behavior is going on. victims cry out for help while bystanders turn a blind eye to the relentless hell targets endure. victims options are to quit school/ work, react violently, harm yourself or have an emotional break down. im a grown woman and this happened to me in the workplace and i take offense to anyone trying to minimize the effect bullying has on victims. my heart aches for these children and their families because they will never understand why these monsters targeted and destroyed their loved ones lives. the torture, torment, and psychological terror plays over and over in my mind and like dr. phil stated the people that witness this behavior are just as bad as the bullies. legislation has to come soon, bullying in schools and the workplace is an epidemic in this country

    March 30, 2010 at 10:30 pm |
  37. James OConnor

    Yes – this is deplorable. I of course agree with all these comments about punishment and they deserve it for the truth is these kids are the creeps like characters in a movie. I have one question. Where are the good kids? where is the chivalry? Where is the grassroots hero boy or girl who would stand up for this lonely, tormented girl. This sickens me as much as all the other details. Isn't there one kid at that school who has the nobility, morality, chivalry or good sense to sit with this girl and stop the attacks?

    March 30, 2010 at 10:29 pm |
  38. Carrie

    Just keep blaming the kids, and things will never change.

    March 30, 2010 at 10:29 pm |
  39. Leslie

    As a nurse I know that we are required by law to report any type of abuse. Teachers as well are required by law to report abuse to a student. My question is how can the teachers in the Phoebe Prince Case not be charged with negligence. They were negligent in reporting the abuse against this poor girl. Teachers report parents on abuse but what about abuse from one student to another.. These are grounds for termination. In fact not only termination but criminal charges. This teachers ignored the abuse and now another child is lost. It is very sad and disturbing! My heart goes out to the girls family!!

    March 30, 2010 at 10:28 pm |
  40. Dawn

    I think it's a shame that so many children these days have to be brutely bullied to the point of taking their lives. I think that the parents should be somewhat responsible. The parents are responsible if it's a underage drinking situation, or a truency situation, so why shouldn't the parents have to harbor some responsibility if death is a result of bullying. Parents today need to make sure that they are involved in their childrens lives. We need to make sure that communication is open and that our children feel comfortable talking to us. If we get wind of certain things happening in the schools, on the streets, etc. if becomes our obligation, not only as a parent but a citizen to make sure that these things get reported and followed up on. Just my 2 cents.

    March 30, 2010 at 10:28 pm |
  41. Diane Wilson

    Anderson I raised 3 children on my own and i went to each of my childrens classes often.......whether it was to surprise them with lunch, sit in the class room because of complaints about a teacher...what ever the case I was there...One day I was walking down the hall with my son and a few of his buddies.....one of his buddies was very short and he was ahead of us..all of a sudden this very tall, very large girl comes and grabs his hoddy and starts threatening him....i told her to get the blank off of him...she said who r u, I stood in her face and said I'm Wally C's mom and if I ever catch u doing that again u will have to deal with me.........that boy still thanks me and he is 25 now....this was middle school.....so the parents have to step up and protect, don't count on teachers , because I got a few fired for bulling the students............

    March 30, 2010 at 10:28 pm |
  42. Yolanda

    These kids should be punished to the fullest extent of the law and make an example for the rest of these bullies. Parents should also be punished for not payibg enough attention to what their kids are doing. Once the parents are also made responsible for their children's actions, they will realize that the law also applies to them.

    March 30, 2010 at 10:27 pm |
  43. Arturo

    I disagree students can be relocated to other schools and will be remained anatomize if necessary. This has happened to someone that I knew and all this was done to him and no questions were asked. By the school district giving such excuses that students don't want to come forward is injustice.

    March 30, 2010 at 10:27 pm |
  44. LA in Canada

    This is a growing trend even in Canada. Kids seem to pick on the new kids or kids that are different. I have seen kids side with the bullies so it would not come back to them. Kids have got the police involved and then they are picked on more. There is not enough being done in the schools to protect the kids. There are fights on the grounds and then they take it off the grounds and the schools will say that they can't do anything when it is off their grounds. My son was helping a youth that was getting picked on and he was suspended from school. My son was also being bullied and was told to go to the police. He did and the police said he could get a restraining order against this person that was bullying him.This youth was in a gang. What will that do to protect him? The restraining order would only be for the one individual.
    There is a lot of this on the TV and games that they play. We have had kids that saw a beating on the news of a guy in a wheelchair. Now that is the trend – Head shots at bus depots with 4-5 teenagers. You can only protect to a point but we all need to get involved when you see this happening.

    March 30, 2010 at 10:26 pm |
  45. Tony

    I grew up in this area, I live here now. I watched this unwravel and was and am horrified. I was bullied in school, I left school after 8th grade. Yes! You absolutely can drive a person, especially a young person, to suicide.
    Hope is a mainstay and when there is no hope left (perceived or real) suicide is a common feeling and concept to grasp at to end the misery.

    March 30, 2010 at 10:26 pm |
  46. Shelley Keddy-Poirier

    Hi I am from Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada. I am sitting here watching your show and I am sick with what these teenagers are doing to these other kids. Bullying should be a criminal offense especially when you have the person that is being bullied commit suicide, because these bullies decides that they are going to torment there victims. We have also had problems here in my home town with bullies and the ones that are being bullied think that the only thing to do is to kill themselves. I feel that they are choosing this because they are tired of being bullied and when the victim goes and tells the Principal, teacher, guidance counselor they are made to feel that they are exaggerating about what is happening to them. My youngest son has lost 2 good friends to bullies and the school didn't do anything about it, so the kids decide that well nobody believes us so what else can we do but ended it. Bullies are a group not just one person. I truly believe if you get the one that does the most bullying by themselves they will be like dogs and run away with there tails between there legs. We as a society should be speaking up more about this because not only is it happening at school, malls it is being done on the computer as well. Maybe the ones that are doing the bullying should go to an autopsy and see what it is like when you drive this person to commit suicide and then go to the families of these victims and try to make them understand that "hey I didn't want them to kill themselves, I was just joking around", well I for one aren't laughing. Please people get involved and stop this and show the BULLIES that they do not rule the roost. Thank you and my heart goes out to ALL the families that have had there precious children commit suicide. One more thing the parents of these bullies were probably bullies themselves and don't really care what there kids are doing as long as they aren't bothering them. So Sad.

    March 30, 2010 at 10:26 pm |
  47. Diane Gradel

    In addition to making parents and students accountable, perhaps Ethics should be required in grade, middle and high school.

    March 30, 2010 at 10:26 pm |
  48. Lynn

    Sometimes its the teachers and coaches who bully the kids too. Our daughter was bullied, or from an adult perspective, verbally harrassed, by a coach and administration would do nothing about it. They didn't understand the impact of verbal abuse and degrading that our daughter and another player were experiencing and when it escalated to pulling on my daughter they still refused to do anything. The problem is multi-faceted and while I believe most teachers do an amazing job there is protection of the strong much more than the weak. As Anderson just said the other students are afraid to speak up which was the case with our daughter's team. We chose to move rather than go further because our daughter was fearful of backlash from other teachers. That's a sad commentary but not as sad as many of the other stories where young lives are lost. There are just too many ways for kids to bully each other now and us parents need to be involved and take responsibility.

    March 30, 2010 at 10:26 pm |
  49. Raymond Rios

    These bullys need to be BULLIED! what i mean is as a parent if there was a child bullying my little girl i would personally confront the bully, possibly smack them around maybe even take their stinking lunch money and then give them the choice "leave my daughter alone or i come do this to you every day in front of all you buddies", and if you decide to be a snitch and call the cops i tell all the students at your high school that YOUR a snitch..
    they are now between a rock and a hard place..
    Problem solved.

    March 30, 2010 at 10:25 pm |
  50. Theresa

    I think it falls back on the parents of the bullies. My daughter was harassed and when I asked the parent of the bully how we could solve the problem she put the blame on my child saying she desrved it.
    Too often the schools shrug it off saying it is just girls being girls. We allow mean girls to continue being mean, always making excuses for them.

    March 30, 2010 at 10:25 pm |
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