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. Pamela

    Bullying starts in KINDER, under the knowledge of their PARENTS, I have a sad experience with bullying done to my 6 year old son in KINDER, the mother knew, she told me that the kid's father had told the son to push and hit if anyone bothers them.. here is the story, my son 1st time in a regular class, with a diagnosis of mild autism & at the time HAD social language delay & needed help interacting with other kids, he wanted to make friends, the TEACHER INSTEAD OF HELPING started to say Thomas STOP BOTHERING SO & SO.. it got to a point that the kids started pushing him !!! the teacher created the hostility herself by not going the extra mile in helping him to INTEGRATE TO THE NEW ENVIRONMENT .. I spoke to the Principal, things got worse in the classroom, the teacher didn't like me talking to the principal then the kids started hitting him, that was the last straw!! the teacher an old lady didn't care !! the day after we had an IEP meeting with her and other people, my son got pushed & hit by 2 different kids who sat at his table, I took him home, after his bath I noticed a scratch on his nose & red on his cheek, I asked him & he told me what happened, WE WENT BACK TO school and the teacher didn't care, she just asked what happened then told me she had to take her sick dog to the hospital!! that was the last day he went to that school, I wrote a letter with everything that had happened since he started school and mailed it to the school board & told them my so was not going back to that school, he was there for 3 months. He is in another school where the teacher & the kids like, accept & help him. Some parents actually teach their kids to hit which according to them is defense ..... but forget to teach them MORALS, these issues would not happen if they are taught right from wrong when they are young, you don't tell a 6 year old to hit another when he is trying to play with him or make friends...

    March 31, 2010 at 2:47 am |
  2. Airick S

    anderson i have been in that situation befor and, what thoes kids did was teriable and they desurve every thing they get and more i hope they face hard jail time for what they did i hope their parents read this so they can feal ashmed that they rasied horidable teens that dont care about other peoples lives but care about making fun of them because there just because they are not perfect or they dont have what that person has. then the teachers ... the teacher also have that kids blood on their hands and they should never teach again

    March 31, 2010 at 2:45 am |
  3. J.V.Hodgson

    It is not a unique American problem i. e. school bullying.
    The problem is the bullied are too often afraid to speak up to school authorities especially when this lady as head of the school says until I have more evidence I can do nothing. Give us all a break the local legal eagles have charged several with very serious offences. And while I believe in innocent until proven guilty they must at least be prevented from even thinking about doing it again to the obvious squealer(s??) in the school. I.e they should be suspended, and made to go to a correctional faciltity to continue educational needs as a temporary measure.
    I remember my old headmaster more than 50 years ago. He told us in morning assembly. The bully pen today is XYZ teacher, you can go to him/her any time the conditions are with names and when, even after school for 1 hour. It was usually that days detention master where students had to report individually to him on entry 1 at a time so you could name mames, bully and time with no one to overhear.
    What used to happen was Kids who were bullied got themselves put in detention and spilled the beans.
    Initial techer reaction was within a week or so try and catch the bullies at it which they often did. The culprits were slapped into double detention and lectured on the error of thier ways for one week and had to write out 200 hundred times a given a) admission of guilt, b) a promise not to do it agin c) be aware that the parents would a) be told by the student and teacher, and the parent requested to meet with the headmaster. At the meeting the Headmaster made it clear that such conduct was unacceptable and needed the parents help, and assistance. A second offence would be reported to the child care authorites, and a third offence the school would expel the offender, and, file papers with the local legal authorities.
    Bullying at my school did not last much longer, and academic achievement improved... is there a moral here.
    I also remeber my brush with the law. My couisin and I were throwing stones at glass panes in a derelict building, The local policeman came upon us clipped us both smartly around the ears, grabbed us by our shirt collars and said I know you two and where you live, I'll be telling your parents what you did wrong today. He did and both are parents said dont ever do anything like that again we dont want our Neighbours to see policeman on our doorstep!! And we both got another clip around the ears from our dad for complaining that he hit us.. answer you must have deserved it!!
    As others have pointed out when famous or elected officicials can behave without civility, nay respect as well to others even when they disagree it does rub off on certain parts of society as well... shame on them and yes I am "targeting" my comments note, not rifle crosshairs), Palin, ( a dot was quite sufficient and "we will challenge vigourously all these incumbent democrats") Wilson "You lie" to the president ( Disgusting and ha ha not true) and whichever it was called Stupak a "baby killer " ( that's not debate its harrassment and zero civility/ respect.), along with the brick throwing and other threats or actions against senators of whichever party, all those are typical bully boy/ girl tactics and never ever even remotele excusable as Lamar tried to do.!! Shame on him!!

    March 31, 2010 at 2:45 am |
  4. Phoenix

    Let me just say right now i take this subject extremely seriously having been bullied my entire school career. I would like to stress how deeply sorry i am that phoebes parents have to go through this horrific ordeal. I remember the look on my mothers face when i would come homee veryday crying because i was bullied. The school would always have something to say when we would show up 'our hands are tied, theres nothing we can do unless she is assulted' or 'we have it taken care of.' They NEVER did anything. I just thank god that i am alive to rub it in the faces of thoes who treated me like dirt. I think at the very leased thoes responsible for phoebes death should have jail time and be expelled from school. This does not need to happen anymore, kids will not 'work it out themselves'. Kids are too young and they cannot see the damage they cause on anyone else. Alot of kids dont have the strength i did to wake up everyday and go to school and deal with the girls who attacked me everday.

    March 31, 2010 at 2:36 am |
  5. Emily

    I would not usually have said anything but am surprised by the responses to little Phoebe's death. Sure, the bullies' parents could be to blame for a child's upbringing that would make them hateful. But you cannot blame these parents for not knowing the bullying was taking place. Children keep many things from their parents regardless of whether or not they have constant discussions with them. One of the most common topics they refuse to discuss is bullying, whether they are the victim or attacker. There is not much that will change this in a parent-child relationship because of a child's pride and their growing independence.

    The blame could also be placed on the school staff. I would almost agree to staff being let go after they were informed of such activity in the school and made no immediate differences or took their time to investigate further.

    But there is only one fact here that is being completely ignored: No one suspected Phoebe was going to kill herself. It is horrible and unthinkable to imagine a child hanging herself, especially because of the hatred of other children. But these kids are not killers. Neither is the staff of the school. Neither is her precious family who loved her very much. No one KNEW she was going to kill herself. If it was ascertained that someone was aware of this or that someone had planned to make her suffer until she took her own life, then that would be punishable.

    This is a tragedy for sure. It needs to be realized that people should stop pointing fingers and start taking measures to prevent this in the future. The anti-bullying legislation needs to be passed and more attention needs to be paid toward our children.

    March 31, 2010 at 2:33 am |
  6. ay

    Have you looked at society today as a whole?

    When adults, companies, corporations, groups want their own way, they bully, threaten, harrass other adults.

    Teens learned it from the adults.and it has become an accepted part of society.

    Today it is not unusual for innocent individuals to be bullied into submission.

    I know a family who owned a small business for 25 then another larger business moved next door. The employees were using and selling illegal drugs and threatened the family with rape and death if they did not participate in those illegal activities. Threats and dangers continued and the family who also lived there was orced to leave their property.

    No one did anything to help them

    March 31, 2010 at 2:31 am |
  7. stephanie walker

    We have dealt with bullying since the start of my little sisters first day of kindergarten, but it is just not the kids doing it it is also the teachers and aides, Children follow the the way adults act they mock us, if a teacher or an aide, or even a parent treats a child differently, that is the way the children are going to treat that child. we had one teacher that just put her to the side, when she would ask for help she would be told that she was stupid!!!!!! we have reported this but nothing has been done she is still teaching!!!!!!!!! We have taught her to just ignore what they say, and i talk to her about what is happening at school. My dad always taught me to treat people how you want to be treated. Just dont blame the kids, blame the adults in their lives to because that is were they have learned it

    March 31, 2010 at 2:30 am |
  8. Sally


    In your report, one statement said two teachers reported the bullying to administration. Why aren't the administrators being held liable for failing to act? Many principals and superintendents talk tough, but fail to back up the teachers and/or students. Only when they are held criminally responsible will they act.
    Sadly, many administrators are bullies themselves, and they simpy do not care.

    March 31, 2010 at 2:27 am |
  9. Chavela

    The students involved and the administration should all be held accountable. My daughter was bullied by her ex-boyfriend who dumped her. She and I both went through hell. He got others to torture her verbally and psychologically at school. I went through hell trying to help her cope with it. Luckily we had two teachers who absolutely adored her. I e-mailed them both and they both took him and the others aside and pretty much told them if they didn't stop they would most likely be expelled. It stopped for awhile but started up again. I stayed on top of it and what finally stopped it? She graduated and left the situation. Others aren't so lucky. I feel so bad for this girl and her family. My heart goes out to them. Parents need to wise up also. I also called his dad and told him what was going on. Guess what? He totally defended "his baby" and wouldn't listen to a word I had to say. He had no idea what was going on and wouldn't believe his precious son was capable of something so vicious. I can honestly say I hate this kid. He makes me sick. Unfortunately there are many guys out there just like him. My advice is to keep tabs on your kids and when they aren't watching, look at their text messages. I found out a lot doing that. I don't feel it's an invasion of privacy. I pay for the phone and it's my right to PROTECT my child!!

    March 31, 2010 at 2:25 am |
  10. Julie

    I always told my son to stick up for himself and fight back, he did and he was left alone for about a month. Then one day he came home crying so hard it broke my heart.. the kids (4th graders) decided to gang up on him. He always loved school and all the sudden he never wanted to go anymore. I should have seen the signs. Before he could get seriously hurt I sent him to my sisters house to live, I didn't know what else to do. I would love to have my son come back but it looks like we are just going to have to move out of this area....

    March 31, 2010 at 2:22 am |
  11. Marty Martain

    I am a retired teacher, and I have broken up several bullying situation and turn in the students. But some of the problem, is that many women teachers will not get involved because they are scared of the bullies. Fellow students are told do not tell because we will get you next. Some Administrators and board members do not want parents mad against them because they will be on the bad side of those parents. And mostly teachers run against parents when informed about the bullying, they state, "not my child" and you are just picking on my child because you do not like them. Then they start a drive to get rid of that teacher because they do not know how to handle children. I have been told off by students and they did not care if I told their parents, which I would do, because the parent was also scared of their own child. Some of these so called experts that do talk at the schools to the teachers, always make suggestions that do not work and then they leave the school and it continues.

    March 31, 2010 at 2:22 am |
  12. Christine

    I can relate to Phoebe. When I was in High School in the 80s, the "popular" girls ganged up on me because a popular football player was talking to me at a party. They harassed me daily at school. Even called my house and said horrible things about me to my mother. It got worse once they found out I was modeling and appearing in local newspapers. I quit high school because I couldn't take the harassment anymore.

    March 31, 2010 at 2:19 am |
  13. Jon

    this is sad. It makes me wonder who cares. If my kid was doing the things i'm hearing now i would do the worst possible legal punishment imaginable. NO CHILD should surcumb to such torment. No child. Teach them to stand up. If they get beat down then THE PARENTS back em up. Its a sad day when the terror flows into the classroom. Harsh penalties should be applied!

    March 31, 2010 at 2:18 am |
  14. BamBam

    I remember, Junior high school the bullies found me the weakest link. I was the geek of geeks. I was sitting across the classroom from one of the bullies. He waited for the teacher to turn to the chalkboard. He came across the room punched me in the chest and walked back, (humiliation). Most of the time it was just word humiliation. They were not afraid to let everyone here and see them humiliate me or whomever they pleased, this is what gives them their strength. They're Nothing Without The Crowd. To the bullies the more kids there to watch the better.
    The kids do need us. No more hiding our eyes, now.
    For those of you that may not know (school bullies in the work place) DO EXIST, and It Will NOT Be Tolerated.
    Thankyou Anderson Cooper 360, God Bless.

    March 31, 2010 at 2:09 am |
  15. Sylvia Koehnlein

    My parents moved to a small town, just when I was entering 7th. grade. I was already miserable enough, having to leave all my friends. Then this 1 terrible girl, decided to make my life hell. She mocked everything about me...my hair, clothes...even my physical appearance. I became very withdrawn, cried a lot in my room. My mother told me to ignore her, she'd stop. Easier said then done. My mother didn't know just how bad it got. I've hated this girl, all my life. Thankfully, I turned it around. After high school, I moved back to the larger city I'd left years before. Got a job with the Airlines..was taught make-up application, hair styling. Made friends, guys actually wanted to date me!...pilots flirted...finally a normal life... Girls going through this, have to realize LIFE is waitting for them too!

    March 31, 2010 at 2:01 am |
  16. Eva

    Bullying is a horrible power play that temporarily elevates ones self-image while hurting and humiliating others. One day in J.H.S., after school, walking from the library, I came upon a clique of girls teasing and picking on a classmate. I came to her defense but she joined the clique against me. Thereafter I became their target. My father had just died; I was having a tough time with my mom. I had been teased before about my clothes and eyebrows etc. but now they would wait and run up to me as I walked and smack my back, or pull my hair then brag. I tried to ignore but I still see myself stopping and fighting. Then one day, the only African/American girl in the school asked me to walk with her – her brother would be coming from his high school to meet her. That is how we survived for months till a few of us victims got together.

    March 31, 2010 at 1:49 am |
  17. Kathy

    I feel that the young people who abused and raped their peer, Phoebe, should pay the ultimate price for the results of their abominable actions by jail terms and lengthy probationary setences. It should remain on their records for life, perhaps thus helping today's students think twice about being part of a bullying session, whether actively or from afar. This is totaly unacceptable; my heart goes out to the family of Phoebe.

    March 31, 2010 at 1:44 am |
  18. Anne Haarer

    My daughter was and still is a victim of bullying. Dr. Phil is right on target. Children do not help the child being bullied, the fear of becoming the target far outweighs the need to help a fellow human being and then in turn becoming the "outcast" target. Our daughter at 12, was forced out of public school 7th grade , small town Nevada. The counselors were useless as was the administration. Schools in our county ignore it and minimize the effects it has on students. Our child, an honor student, president of Student volunteer clubs and a gentle soul was not only attacked physically but tortured mentally as was and is our family today. Our girl was throw down onto the pavement and accosted ( at school) because one of the bullies was suspended for two days due to the fact that he told her he would slit her throat. His friends, girls and boys then targeted her and attacked her because he got in trouble. Our school board vice superintendent told me point blank she could no longer guarantee our daughters safety!Needless to say we had to remove her from public school and place her in private. She spent the month of December 2008 in her room. She still fears going into town becasue she may see somebody. School today is difficult for her. She is soaring academically but trusts NO ONE socially. These girls and boys left obscene messages on our phones, egged our home, deficated on our doorstep, and harass us even to this day, if by chance we pass them in the school bus. When we addressed the parents , the parents were defensive and the old " it's just the way it is in middle school" "your daughter is too sensitive' and then basically "my kid does what she wants and YOU can't stop her" was the all around attitude. PARENTS are to blame. People in society today are not considerate, supportive, kind or thoughful...the children reflect the home life. Children are out of control as are their parents. I really thought we would never see our daughter move past this, almost two years later and the scars are deep, for all of us! Small town America, sick and sad. We still have been the target of harassment and our daughter has not been ANYWHERE near the public school children. We just allowed her to get on the internet to create a facebook, and even that we monitor. When I hear the stories about these children taking their lives I weep. My daughter was almost there...My prayers to any and all children and parents suffering at the hands of hatefilled children and their hatefilled parents. Children do not respect each other or their teachers, parents etc... this is it...Compassion is not taught or expected..out of control upand coming adults!We have to PAY 6,000 a year to keep our child in a school where LEARNING is a priority, RESPECT is enforced, and she is SAFE!!! Every morning I think about what could have been. and am so glad I have my child to hold! What is the solution? It is wrong that our schools are not safe, that children seem to run the show, and lazy school employees rll theri eyes and ignore the suffering...Can we afford private schools? NO do we really have a choice??? NO. Something MUST CHANGE!!! All of these children should be held accountable..PUNISHED and the parents!!

    March 31, 2010 at 1:39 am |
  19. Linda

    I can't believe for a minute that the teachers and staff were not aware of this problem, they were how could you not be. The parents went to the school and spoke to the staff. Dr. Phil's idea that these teachers need to be educated and given resources to do something about this is nonsense........you have to force people to care. The school knows faster and more fully what is going on than the parents.

    This subject of serious bulling has been discussed often and the one common thread for all of it is that the school did nothing to protect their child, that is what most often is reported. For some reason they do not want to get involved and they condone and sanction this by their silience and just looking the other way. The bullies until now have been quite comfortable doing it knowing there are no consequences, that is why it has become so serious and out of control. We send out kids to school to be safe and this is what is hapening. This school should have beeen helping and watching this student, new to the school, new to the country. They could have turned this around at the first signs of it but they didn't, they knew about it for sure. There is a pulse and a tone in every class and it is easily picked up by both the students and the teachers. The schools are notorious for doing nothing.

    March 31, 2010 at 1:38 am |
  20. Monika in Canada

    I was bullied mercilessly as a kid. Not the right "look" for our white bread neighbourhood. Too olive skinned, dark brown hair, over-weight, thick glasses, adopted & asthmatic. You name it, I was everything the bullies picked on – all rolled into one. They'd wait, after school, to "get the Indian." By the way – my background is French, Swedish, German, English & Russian. A real Heinz 57 – but no Native Indian in our family.

    It wasn't just the kids at school – once, while going with my aunt to my Nana's on the city bus, a woman spat on me – a 12-year-old kid! – because "there's too many of you squaws in the world."

    Yes – I know all about bullying & this episode really hit home for me.

    March 31, 2010 at 1:37 am |
  21. Elizabeth Lyles

    I dreamed of killing myself because of relational bullying starting around nine years old. I was told at a very young age you would go to hell if you killed yourself. And what I knew about hell, it was the ONLY thing worse than what I was going through. I have dissociation identity disorder a form of post-traumatic stress disorder. People think I live in the past but it's the past that lives with me. I have bouts of intrusive suspicion and anger that I have only recently learned to live with, I'm 41 years old. The damage done is mostly invisible.

    March 31, 2010 at 1:36 am |
  22. Stanley Comas

    Most bullies were bullied and facing a bully takes courage that comes with age. That said what about the vicarious liability parents have with there kids actions. You now parents are legally responsible for there kids actions. So they should also face the judge. The teachers has a legal responsability to protect kids. Parents & teachers are responsible for there errors and omission. Teacher and parents should confront head on bullies and maybe give them a little taste of their own medicine but in a constructive way so to create a change inside their minds. "Don't do to other as you don't want done to you"

    March 31, 2010 at 1:33 am |
  23. Bonni

    I went to my grandson's teachers and reported the bullying, the name calling and physical attacks. The teachers isolated my grandson making him feel like the "bad kid " instead of the victim. His teachers called him a tattle tale when he reported the abuse. I am now homeschooling my grandson and after hearing the heartbreaking reports of other eleven year old boys commiting suicide, I am certain I made the right choice. We as parents and teachers must be held accountable.

    March 31, 2010 at 1:32 am |
  24. terry

    im from canada and i have children of my own. My prays go out to the family of the young girl. if the teachers seen this and never done anything about it should be accountable in some sort. THEY SHOULDN'T BE ALLOWED TO WORK WITH CHILDREN. Because there not looking out for there best interest. REGARDLESS if they had any training with bullying or not......it's common sence!

    It starts from when our we send our children to daycare and pre-school if you see kids fighting or bullying YOUR suppose to get involve. SHAME ON THE STAFF AT THAT SCHOOL THAT LET THIS HAPPEN. And now the school is doing something about it because there pushed in a corner.

    As parents we send our children to school thinking that there protected and safe from all harm and thats the way it's suppose to be.

    I'm not very relegions but i do believe that the lord will have judgement on all of us in the end.

    March 31, 2010 at 1:31 am |
  25. mike morrissey

    When my 13 yr old daughter told me abt bullying, I asked her if she wanted me to act. Not yet. A couple of weeks later, she asked for my help.

    Let me tell you, when a Dad gets involved...action happens. Most bullies don't expect a dad.

    Dads..stand up for your kids..especially daughters.

    March 31, 2010 at 1:30 am |
  26. mike renner

    I have a daughter in the eighth grade in a school in East Tennessee. She has endured threats, name calling, and being shunned from students and school personel the entire school year. We have addressed this with the school counselor, the principle, the superintendents office, etc. Nothing has been done. The counselor and the principle will turn their head and not speak to my wife, child or myself. The taxpayers had to pay for a program this year called EPIC, for the school system that is supposed to help eliminate bullying and it has only gotten worse.

    March 31, 2010 at 1:28 am |
  27. donna m

    Bullying is nothing new. It's only in light of recent years and the increase in teen and pre-teen suicides that these issues are now, more than ever important.

    I am 57 years old and was bullied in grade school. When I got into high school there were two 13 year-olds who committed suicide because of bullying. This happened in the early 1970's. Bullying is nothing new and will always be a problem until children learn how to accept other children who are different.

    It only takes one child to be a bullying. Others follow that one child's lead because they think that child is cool or smart and they want to be part of the "in-crowd."

    Children need to be taught in school that bullying is not an acceptable form of behavior. In California some of the schools here do not accept bullying or even verbal abuse and children, even at the grade level, are expelled because of it. And most teachers here do not tolerate it either.

    The school system really failed in Massachusetts regarding Pheobe Prince because the staff and other students had reported the abuse and still it continued.

    What a tragedy!

    March 31, 2010 at 1:27 am |
  28. Carolyn Colwell

    Where do I begin. I have two school age children and they both have experienced severe bullying at school that has impeded their education. My oldest is currently being treated for anxiety, depression and several other health related issues that I believe are a direct result of her daily environment. Bullying is a symptom of MUCH bigger problem in society. We have bullying in our global and local governments (look at congress!), bully in the workplace that in it's extreme form leads to workplace violence, bully on our roads in the form of aggressive driving and road rage. We must address if our society is going to move forward. I drop my children off at school every day and as leave my loving protection my final words to them are "work hard, learn something, be kind to others and do the right thing". They say 'ya mom' and off they go. I only hope they take my words to heart, today and everyday. It takes villiage but the villiagers have to care about the least among them.

    March 31, 2010 at 1:26 am |
  29. Jackie

    Check out the Workplace Bullying Institute in Bellingham, WA. Helped me immensely when I suffered a bully at work.

    March 31, 2010 at 1:25 am |
  30. Dale Martin Hinkley

    I am a Marine, combat veteran of OIF. If I ever run into a bully, they are done. This is a complete outrage and I am extremely pissed. I am of Irish descent and will go to the ends of the earth to justify this beatiful girls suicide. The school should be sued and all staff fired and unable to teach in any school district. I fought for the freedom of this country and when I see something like this it makes me wanna teach these little punks a lesson they will never, NEVER forget. I was raised to respect people regardless of their nationality and I am extremely angry and affended. I want this school to go down, and the bullies and parents of the bullies should be punished regardless of the outcome!

    March 31, 2010 at 1:24 am |
  31. Helen Serrano

    My child is a victim of a group of girls who bullied her. My daughter is not the only victim from the same group of girls. Unlike my daughter who asserts herself to these girls and inform me every day what goes on during school, the other victimized student seem to be emotionally weak and passive. The threatening words those girls said to her seem to be the last words stuck in her mind, " Keep this situation among us kids, the adults don"t need to know." I am afraid this student might end up like Pheobe Price. After being alerted from us and the other student, the principal took actions by informing staff and students bullying is not tolerated in school. Then she emailed all the students' parents who were involved by letting them know she will implement a program called "Stop Bullying Now." After the first session, the parents of the bullying girls informed the principal that their daughters will not participate in the program. When I heard this news I was so frustrated and mad. Obviously the parents were misinformed from these girls, the parents rallied together not having their daughters to participate in the program and choose to be ignorant. One of the parents whom we have known for a while has a history of not wanting to be accountable of her own actions and displacing it on others. The power of learned behavior is evident. I left a message to the principal i want a conference with all the bullying kids' parents, as well as the principal. Let's see what happens.

    March 31, 2010 at 1:24 am |
  32. Loretta Thomas

    This is so tragic, yet, we see it in adults on a daily basis. Americans feel it's their right to say and do whatever they wish "in the name of being a good American". Our children are following our lead in school, on the play ground and elsewhere. Until we choose to become civil to others, we will continue to see this behavior acting out with our children. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. I just wish those "GOOD AMERICANS" can remember, "we reap what we sow". Our bullying, hateful, unkind and discourteous behavior is being observed daily by others and when you have something like this happens, it paints America in a bad light. Is this truly the American Way?

    March 31, 2010 at 1:22 am |
  33. Lonna

    It's not just High Schoolers. My 3-yr old grandson is being bullied at his pre-school. Two boy classmates got him down on the ground and urinated on him. Teacher changed his clothes, that's the only way my daughter even found out about what had happened. The excuse the pre-school Director gave: It's normal for boys to think they can urinate outdoors when they often times see their Dads and Granddads doing it. My answer: Are they peeing on people? If so, then they're bullies too. We're putting our grandson in a private christian pre-school that will cost twice as much money, just to make sure he's not at a place where bullying is tolerated.

    March 31, 2010 at 1:19 am |
  34. Robin S

    When my son was in School he was bullied and hit in front of his locker this was back in 2003 our School did not have anti bulling but because he was phonically attacked the young Boy was suspended My son went as far as going on tv to Get anti-bulling Law here in our state of Iowa we did finally get it. My son had me to let him know that its not right and to report it even though then nothing was done most of the time

    March 31, 2010 at 1:18 am |
  35. keonya miller

    You try to have adult understand and explain this which is wrong. I am 15 and in highschool. I know the things that go on. What the parents do to teach their children does not matter. Once your child steps on to a school ground they are being taught and influenced by kids in the school. Nobody will tell because then they become a new link to the chain of bullying. People fail to realize that today kids are amazing actors, they can go home and act one way and go to school and act another. How about you put some teens on your show and let them explain this to you. Adults cannot do it because they don't live it.

    March 31, 2010 at 1:17 am |
  36. Lorna Gifford

    I believe the parents of these bully's should be held accountable. That would send a message to other parents to pay attention to what their kids are up too.

    March 31, 2010 at 1:16 am |
  37. Michelle

    I have a daughter that started middle school this past fall. She absolutely hates it! She tells me there is such drama with the girls, the cliques and the bullying. She keeps asking me if she could be home schooled so she can get out of the school. I saw this story in the afternoon of Monday March 29th and how ironic that when I was taking my daughter to school that morning we were discussing how the girls make fun of each other at school. I had been telling her that this all starts with the parents of the kids. Our whole society is screwed up! Too many mothers are trying to live their lives through their daughters now. They aren't parents-they act like they are sisters! Trying to be hip and look young. The school my daughter goes to has a parent that is a teacher. She joins in with the bullying. She agrees with her daughter when things are being said. What does that tell you about the kids and the quidance they are getting.

    My husband and I had a conference with the teachers of my daughter to discuss our concerns and if they are seeing anything going on? They hadn't noticed anything. They even went so far as to tell me that nowadays teachers are on more friendly terms with students and even have conversations that would have been deemed inappropriate before. They join in with what is going on with the cliques, bullying and such. How do we expect them to do anything when they are as much the problem as the parents!

    I'm completely outraged that this has happened! Nobody should have to deal with nasty comments, physical abuse and mental abuse from other kids in school. And the person that said "this is what kids do and should deal with it" – well there is a good example of why our kids are so messed up. They see it every day from adults, parents, teachers.

    I really hope everybody involved gets severly prosecuted! It won't bring Phoebe back, and it probably wont change the way parents are behaving these days, since it is such a "It's all about Me" society, but maybe it will help some other child be protected and not do something drastic because nobody is listening or helping. Very tragic.

    March 31, 2010 at 1:16 am |
  38. JohnCarl

    Anderson, I am SO grateful that you have been a consistent voice in confronting the epidemic of bullying in our nation's schools and at school related activities.

    I find it unfortunate that many people and Congresspersons are not aware of the Safe Schools Improvement Act (HR 2262) which has been introduced into the House of Representatives. This legislation would mandate all schools across the country have consistent and enumerated anti-bullying policies, define bullying and harassment, provide for teacher trainings, and collect information on incidences of bullying and harassment in our nation's schools. It is time for a change!

    March 31, 2010 at 1:13 am |
  39. lorppi

    My daughter has been bullied all year at school. She is called names, bullied online, threatened and harassed. She has even been hazed by another group who said they would protect her. The "witnesses the school wants will not step up due to retaliation and fear of these mean girls.

    A gang of 10 girls waits for her to beat her up just off school campus. The school says for her to "never be alone" and if you get jumped "curl up in a ball to protect your face and your braces". They say "don't fight back or you will be suspended too".

    We have been in several times to see the Vice Principal and have been told that "we feel the situation is bigger in your daughter's head than it really is." They even had the poor taste to tell us that when our daughter was in a psychiatric ward for a near suicide attempt. The psychiatrist told us she would have been dead if I would not have caught her and the problem is the bullying and inability to fit in.

    The school our daughter goes to (population of 1800) has had 8 reported suicide attempts in the past 2 months. Tell me there is not a problem here.

    Instead of suing the school district, I began a proactive approach to bullying awareness. Now they say the information is "not what they want the parents to hear or the kids to hear." They say "it will scare them". So sorry that we will bring a problem to light that will save lives.


    March 31, 2010 at 12:51 am |
  40. Cecelia St. Pierre

    This is so horrible, I am really trobbled by this and so very sad. My son has a friend whose sister, that I met, commited suicide. I can not to this day get it out of my mind....and wish I could have helped in some way to have prevented this from happening.
    I think that schools should have an anonymous website that children can go to and report any abuse or threats to fellow students. This would be something that at least could be checked out and watched. I know that schools have their hands full in so many ways, but maybe this could be done by parents volunteering to help.
    Something must be done to help our children in today's stressful strife to mingle in everyday life......it is not as easy for them!

    March 31, 2010 at 12:38 am |
  41. Patty

    Clearly, we are a society that values status, position, and the power that comes with both. Children learn from their culture and from their community, including their most important community-their family. I hear parents brag about their child's athletic talents, their child's "giftedness", or their child's achievements. Rarely do I hear parents emphasize their child's emotional intelligence, their cultural sensitivity or tolerance, or their capacity to stand up against their peers when someone in being bullied or ridiculed. We owe it to this child to send a loud message to other would be bullies that this won't be tolerated. We owe it to ourselves and our community to teach compassion to our children and in our schools.

    March 31, 2010 at 12:38 am |
  42. Michael C.

    boys and girl education is an extension of their family.
    It seems that respect its a rare word.
    What is wrong whit kids today ? instead of What is wrong whit parents today?

    March 31, 2010 at 12:31 am |
  43. Amber

    I was there. I was right there in that situation Phoebe was going through when I was 15. I was the 'not so lucky' young lady at my high school who dealt with horrifying, and disgustingly detailed rumors about my sex life, which in truth was non-existent. I didn't want to be popular, I didn't strive for attention. I did everything I could to blend in, but it was a waste of time. I was a vehicle for kids who wanted to be popular to use to make their way up the social ladder. I was raped twice, and once, I was tied to the dog chain on my front porch, had ducked tape wrapped around my head, and paint poured in my hair and all over my face. I tried to fight back and stick up for myself but I was intensely outnumbered and emotionally exhausted.

    I would burst out in quiet tears in the middle of class, and the teacher would single me out, drawing all attention to me, because he or she saw tears streaming down my face. And of course, I would be laughed at, and this would exponentially increase the bullying as soon as I stepped in the hallway. The teachers always assumed I was dealing with something at home, and I never saw any use in talking to any of them about it. What were they going to do? The teachers wanted to be popular with the 'cool' kids too, and the guidance counselor was more of a career counselor than anything.

    I eventually internalized what everyone was saying, and assumed that it must be true. There must be something wrong with me that only I can't see. I had attempted suicide about three times, including purposefully trying to overdose on a whole bottle of tylenol and a whole gallon of vodka. Because of this, I was placed in a mental institution, basically locked up and treated even more like an animal.

    I was and am not an immigrant, and my parents were not either. I am an American woman born and raised in small town Pennsylvania.

    I don't know how I did it, but I made it through, and I graduated. It was the best day of my life. I would never wish that life on anyone, not even my worst enemy. It was by far the absolute worst years of my life, and though I am the strong person I am today because of the hardships I dealt with, I would rather die than suffer through high school again.

    Something has to be done. Teens in America seem to have no concept of the affects their selfish actions might cause on other people's lives, and teachers and adults continue to turn a blind eye while young people are unnecessarily abused and traumatized in our high schools.

    Don't you see this pattern emerging? Haven't you had enough?

    March 31, 2010 at 12:30 am |
  44. Ruth

    When adults – especially celebrities – who should know better but don't, are featured on TV programs playing "gotcha!" it's no wonder our youth not only think it's all right to bully and tease and taunt their peers, but see their "idols" treating each other in ways that were unthinkable not too many years ago.

    There is absolutely nothing funny or the least bit amusing in seeing someone get "punked" or made fun of. It's not a stretch from that kind of abhorrent, degrading behavior by adults to bullying fellow classmates at school.

    Shame on those who do it and set such a poor example for our children. Shame on those who make their living doing it. And more shame on those who pay them to do it!

    Whatever happened to random acts of kindness?

    March 31, 2010 at 12:20 am |
  45. Betty Lou

    This is such a tragic story. This young girl was beautiful and had her entire life in front of her. Anybody who witnessed this bullying and did nothing should be held accountable. I feel sorry for the family. The kids in school today have no feelings for anyone except themselves. It is a selfish world. My heart breaks for this family. I just came back from Ireland where my sister lives.

    March 31, 2010 at 12:16 am |
  46. Alex

    Wow – I sit here angry and completely relating to Anderson's story tonight.
    We are new immigrants to Canada from the UK. Since the day she started school here, our daughter, now 14 has been harrassed and ridiculed. She cannot cope with it and has not attended school since November. She has spent 2 months in an adolescent psych unit and is terrified to go anywhere there may been other teens. She has attempted suicide and we are constantly vigilant of her. She came here as a happy, outgoing, friendly girl who was very much looking forward to her future in our new country. Now she has been devastated by bullies and we do not know if we will ever see the girl we brought here again.
    I have been a frequent visitor to the schools she has attended and have had a hot line to the councillor. They have tried to deal with the bullies at school level. The bullies have, of course denied what they have done – so the school have not taken any further action. Like most victims of bullying – my daughter is terrified of retribution if we take it "too far" and the school have respected her wishes. I have asked for parents to be informed but at my daughters wishes this has not been done.
    I believe that the answer to bulllying in schools lies with the students themselves. It has to somehow be made "uncool" to bully. Anti-bullying policies are developed by adults and plainly they do not work.
    I am not suggesting anarchy. Just get the students directly involved and follow their lead.
    My heart is with Phoebes family

    March 31, 2010 at 12:16 am |
  47. Toni

    My son was bullied for two years in grades 6 & 7. Thank God he was able to not take it to heart. We talked about it often and he knew the boy who was bullying him was abused by his parents who were deep into drugs and their son was in alot of pain from that.

    Children need to be taught compassion and conflict resolution in grade 1and each year following have that reinforced with age appropriate tools to deal with it. I would like to see parents of bullys made to attend parenting courses and or family counciling. Also classmates who witness bulling need to immediately come to their classmates aid in numbers and the schools reward or recognize them for their assisstance. This problem is only going to get worse. We cannot ignore it anymore.

    March 31, 2010 at 12:09 am |
  48. Brian J

    Tis sad that a girl from a small town in Ireland who moved to West Massachusetts (which has many Irish immigrants) to experience America, finds instead hell on earth. She was buried in County Clare, Ireland-far away from the bullies who criminally harassed her. Hopefully the family stays in Ireland, their American experience being so horrible. Her bullies were unrelenting even in death, posting a page that was taken down on Facebook called we murdered Phoebe Prince. Hopefully Facebook will cooperate with the authorities, so the criminals can be brought to justice.

    March 31, 2010 at 12:07 am |
  49. DSA

    I was a victim of bullying growing up. It ruined my life. According to your article, teachers knew, and told the administration but they did nothing. Here is what I think ought to happen.
    1. Every adult employee who stood by and did nothing should lose their job immediately. They also should forfeit their pensions.
    2. Teachers who reported the bullying but did not follow up should be suspended for one semester.
    3. Parents of these bullies should be held financially responsible for all expenses related to this girl's funeral, as well as counseling and other care for her family. They also can pay punitive damages.
    4. Each of the students involved should be irrevocably expelled from the school district. If they want an education, they can pay out of pocket.
    5. The ring leaders should be tried as adults.
    6. The remainder should get to spend a few years working for the government far away from their families, friends, and each other with no pay beyond room, board, and clothing.
    7. Each and every day for the rest of their lives, I hope they get to remember that they MURDERED an innocent girl.

    March 31, 2010 at 12:03 am |
  50. Eric

    I myself am a high school student who had been bullied before in the past. When I was in elementary school, we had a "strict" no-bullying campaign. The administrators and teachers often told us how mean it was to hurt and insult other children, but they rarely did anything about it when it actually happened. Kids would regularly pick on me and insult me, while the administrators stood by and never did anything about it. I never considered suicide, but I would stay home the day after I'd get beat up. My mom was okay with this, she knew that contacting the school was pointless. They would hold a meeting about the situation, tell the bully that making fun of other kids was bad, and send them on their way. The next day, I'd get beat up again, nothing would ever change. I was afraid to go to school, and I was extremely anti-social. I still am. I hope that Phoebe's school, no, every school will learn to stop bullying before it goes too far.

    March 30, 2010 at 11:53 pm |
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