April 1st, 2010
09:45 PM ET

Bullied to Death? School Responds: Join the Live Chat

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/02/liveblogfinal.copy.jpg]

Tonight on 360°, a Massachusetts school accused of not doing enough to stop bullying. The DA says the bullying led 15-year-old Phoebe Prince to kill herself. Tonight the Superintendent of South Hadley Schools responds. He speaks out in a prime-time exclusive. Plus, we continue our special investigation on the Church of Scientology.

Scroll down to join the live chat during the program. It's your chance to share your thoughts on tonight's headlines. Keep in mind, you have a better chance of having your comment get past our moderators if you follow our rules.

Here are some of them:

1) Keep it short (we don't have time to read a "book")
2) Don't write in ALL CAPS (there's no need to yell)
3) Use your real name (first name only is fine)
4) No links
5) Watch your language (keep it G-rated; PG at worst - and that includes $#&*)

Filed under: Live Blog • T1
soundoff (288 Responses)
  1. Brian

    I cannot believe the school official and how he is trying to cover up the real truth. As a parent with children in the school system I would be really questioning the lack of antibullying action at the school. Here in Ontario Canada each school has to have a School Council – made of parents, school officials. We discuss these topics on a monthly basis. Also our Ministry of Education here in Ontario has tough legislation – Safe schools act..in place...which really promotes anti-bullying. It appears there is no such legislation in this state.... Really sad...such a beautiful child ...my heart is sadden for her family...Brian

    April 1, 2010 at 10:19 pm |
  2. Joe

    Boy, if ever I see a cover-up, I see one here. Plenty of guilt to pass around here.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:19 pm |
  3. Jeremiah Sherrill

    I would have to agree with A. Smith from Oregon. The guy is not saying anything on the advice of his lawyer. The school is guilty, same as the school was guilty of the abuse I suffered as a young man going to school. The teachers of course knew, they always know. Teachers have favorites and a lot of teachers were bullies themselves. If teachers aren't as fond of the victim as they are the victimizers that they will do nothing.

    Some teachers will even try to make the situation worse intentionally as a way to make the student they like, like them more.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:19 pm |
  4. jordan harris

    Anderson way to keep your composure dealing with this "guy"

    April 1, 2010 at 10:18 pm |
  5. Cece

    Anderson please spend time on the suicide of another immigrant student at San Clemente High in California, Daniel Mendez, who committed suicide because of rentless bullying by two boys. The parents are suing against the Capistrano Unified School District for its alleged failure to stop the "relentless" harassment incidents from happening. Any money they win will go to a childrens' home. This happened in in Spring 2009.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:18 pm |
  6. Cessy - Chicago

    I'm not even the host of your show, Anderson and I'm getting frustrated with Ms. Sayer.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:18 pm |
  7. Chris, Ohio

    I am sure the principal is a good man at heart, but it is clear he overlooked this problem and made a mistake...

    April 1, 2010 at 10:18 pm |
  8. linda

    At the beginning of each school year, we parents and children have to sign a No Bullying Policy.. Teachers and students have a responsibility and more so are Required to report... Action must be taken.. It is impossible for no one to see bullying in a school system and must be reported immediately.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:18 pm |
  9. LisaL -Canada

    the girl who killed herself here was an 'outsider' – if the kids at school were almost ostracizing her, one has to wonder how the adults in the town treat(ed) her parents. i mean, children learn most behaviors at home and/or from peers. i'd hate to think this is just 'acceptable normal always-been-this-way' type of behavior.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:18 pm |
  10. David

    I am an Assistant Principal at a high school. I keep hearing in this report that "bullying" and "harassment" occured on this date or during this period. There is no clear thing to spot, see, hear, etc. that is bullying. Also, I hear people, including Anderson, saying "something" needs to be done. This is also no one "something" that solves this. It is extremely hard to PROVE harrassment/bullying which is what has to be done to take action on the bully.
    We as parents have to teach our own kids to treat people appropriately. That is what will solve it.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:18 pm |
  11. Marianne

    I can directly relate to this problem. My son was a mere 5 years old and was bullied from his first day of kindergarten all the way up until his last day. it only got worse as the year went on. the entire district ignored the problem and would not acknowledge that bullying starts in kindergarten. I have dealt with Superintendents just like this guy, what a joke. dodging all questions. I went as far as addressing the school board, I evan held a protest in my town to raise awareness. in the end we left the district. always supporting the staff no protection for the victim.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:18 pm |
  12. Christine Cummins -- Houston, Texas

    It's sick that people like Gus Sayer can get on national television and say it's not the school's fault.

    Instead of trying to save his butt, he should be doing everything he can to appologize for the things the school did/or failed to do.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:18 pm |
  13. michael armstrong sr.

    But this Principle is not highly revered by the Nation .

    April 1, 2010 at 10:18 pm |
  14. Patrick

    The School is being made an example of...Principals and staff tend to see Bullying as part of school life...but the kids today are not made of the same stuff we were made of growing up. It needs to stop...someone at the top must be held up to higher standards than this continued negligence

    April 1, 2010 at 10:17 pm |
  15. Max - North Port, FL

    It's not the schools fault that the girl killed herself. How would they be able to predict this kind of event, even if they were aware of "bullying" going on. I'm sure they have had hundreds of incidents of bullying at that same school that didn't end up with a suicide.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:17 pm |
  16. Jo Ann, North Royalton, Ohio

    This guy is changing his story as the facts become known.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:17 pm |
  17. Jessica

    Hello Anderson. This story is truly upsetting. My son is in Elementary school and I cannot stress the importance of anti bullying to him. The superintendent, Gus Sayer needs to get his story straight. He seems very unclear about what he is saying.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:17 pm |
  18. Derek,Winter Haven

    I'm a parent of two that have graduated and I always talked with them about school,,where were her parents during this time of turmoil?

    April 1, 2010 at 10:17 pm |
  19. Isabel Siaba

    @ Anderson

    After so many cases of bullying, schools speak of this subject with children?
    Is there any discipline that shows that this problem exists and that children should ask help to go through this?

    April 1, 2010 at 10:17 pm |
  20. Megan Dresslar - Shoreline, WA

    Gus Sayers is not truth at all.... I don't believe him what he said...... I think that he is really wrong. Lies!!!!!!!

    April 1, 2010 at 10:17 pm |
  21. Jerry

    Schools, including teachers in this day an age seem to be have lost their power of authority. Kids and many of their parents don't seem to respect teachers anymore. Because of this the schools and teachers are intimitadated by the parents. Who is at fault – the all are! No respect – no authority = chaos!!

    April 1, 2010 at 10:17 pm |
  22. Elaine

    Wake up parents! Kids are the way they are now because they know they can do whatever they want and they will not be disciplined. It seems parents are afraid to take a stand. You are not your kids best friend-you are their parents. God bless this girls family. If my kids were being bullied i would be at the school every day until the situation was taken care of and would let the parents of the bullies know that they would be held responsible if anything happened to my child.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:17 pm |
  23. michael armstrong sr.

    The principle is scared and he knows his days are over the system faild and now they need to own up and this should apply to all schools .

    April 1, 2010 at 10:17 pm |
  24. Cessy - Chicago

    There are no report of a suicide note. Ms. Phobe took her life as a result if the bullying that she experienced in school.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:16 pm |
  25. omar

    do we need to wait for another columbine to take this issue more seriously?

    April 1, 2010 at 10:16 pm |
  26. Gloria, Brooklyn, NY

    That school is trying to protect themselves. They still have no interest in her death.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:16 pm |
  27. Karen, MN

    Mean girls have a low self esteem. I think we should talk to the bullies about they they feel the need to put someone down.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:16 pm |
  28. A. Smith, Oregon

    Good questions tonight Anderson Cooper on not letting Gus Sayer simply fall back into his staged denial. Good pressure and questions, reminds me of Chris Matthews on 'Hard-Ball'.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:16 pm |
  29. Bonnie

    I am a teacher. We do everything we can. Anderson, I love and respect you. Ease up on the Super. He's trying, too. As teachers, we all try and I've had a former student commit suicide, too, and it will haunt me forever and ever. He committed suiced one week after his friend did. In my district, we have great programs...sometimes programs aren't enough. We can't control everything. If I could have been in my former student's house to prevent him from putting a noose around his neck, I would have been. God Bless our children. All of them.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:16 pm |
  30. frank

    Its sad to know that a forigner comes to the greatest country and commits suicide because of bullies

    April 1, 2010 at 10:15 pm |
  31. Eva Schiess

    The problem is that this is being labeled as bullying. It is actually torture. I have done a great deal of research on this subject, and what goes on in these schools is far worst than "bullying". It is appalling that this continues in our society. It must be labeled torture from now on.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:15 pm |
  32. Donald

    Anderson, I do not believe you will get the whole truth out of Mr. Sayer. No school administrator wants to admit that he knew enough, early enough, to prevent a student from committing suicide. The best we can hope for is that the attention that CNN and other networks are drawing to the subject of bullying in schools will force administrators nationwide to take action in order to prevent tragedies like this one from happening.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:15 pm |
  33. Kim- Ohio

    Did they say this all started over a boy she dated?

    April 1, 2010 at 10:15 pm |
  34. Cessy - Chicago

    Mr. Sayer sound confused.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:15 pm |
  35. Abel

    Anderson.. Awesome interview you have on the ropes. Thank you!

    April 1, 2010 at 10:15 pm |
  36. sue r

    I agree Anderson,,Bullying has always been a problem. With access to the internet and texting,,it seems that there has been a huge increase in bullying and suicide's. Everyone needs to observe our youth more and react quickly when we know there is a problem.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:15 pm |
  37. Rkay

    Keep up the pressure Anderson.. Don't let this guy get off easy on national television.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:15 pm |
  38. Chris, Ohio

    Has this guy looked straight ahead yet? What a liar.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:15 pm |
  39. Thalia

    I was also bullied and was withdrawn from school 2 months before graduation because i had a death threat and i called the police. After months of that event the administration went against me and threatened to kick me out. After that my mom withdrew me from school.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:15 pm |
  40. Emmet F. Bellville, III, MA, MA, NCC, LPC

    As a licensed psychotherapist in Colorado that specializes in childhood and adolescent mental health and behavior problems, I have been trying to have community members attend life skill classes on Bullying Behaviors in Children and Adolescents. But even with the promotion of events, community members most of the time do not attend. I hope it is not going to take more deaths for people to take this problem seriously.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:15 pm |
  41. Maureen Mather

    I'm a retired teacher. Bullying has been a pervasive problem in many schools for years with the full knowledge of the staff members and administrators. If administrators and most of the staff members are asked if bullying is a problem at their school they will adamantly deny that it is. If students are asked, however, their responses are markedly different. Teachers are afraid of the students who bully, and they fear the parents of these children for obvious reasons. They are afraid to stand up for the students in their care, and they live in denial to protect themselves.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:15 pm |
  42. sharon j middlesworth

    I have dealt with bullying in ct schools and teachers and principals alike do nothing about this situation.It is very frustrating to get any help from the school at all.Thats why we have so much trouble in our schools

    April 1, 2010 at 10:14 pm |
  43. Vicki, Wellington

    The Superintendent seems guilty of not acting early enough.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:14 pm |
  44. josie

    I had to move my grandson from middle school because he was getting bullied around every day and i even told the principal and he told me it was impossible. I moved him there's cameras in halls and i dont't think admi montors them. California

    April 1, 2010 at 10:14 pm |
  45. Nicole from the Netherlands

    Yesterday there was said, that she got cans thrown to her, how can they NOT know?

    April 1, 2010 at 10:14 pm |
  46. Paula, Colorado

    I'm glad to see your interview with the Superintendent. The issue needs to be taken more seriously. It's too tragic when a young person feels that suicide is their only defense against bullying–or any trying circumstances.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:14 pm |
  47. Jo Ann, North Royalton, Ohio

    @Detra, "The teachers see it going on but many times don't say anything."

    Some teachers want to be the kids' "friend" so they don't turn them in so that they don't become the target of their harassent.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:14 pm |
  48. Gloria, Brooklyn, NY

    I believe the administration knew long before a week before her death. She must have felt that she had no one to help her.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:14 pm |
  49. Casey Jones - Palm Springs, CA

    I'm not convinced that schools should be held 100% culpable for some child's behavior. WHEN are we going to hold parents responsible for their lack of appropriate parenting skills, including socialization? Why must we deflect blame to a third party (and every taxpayer that contributes to the school's finances) when it's the parents who are at fault? We hold parents responsible for their kids when they deface property, so what's up with this?

    April 1, 2010 at 10:13 pm |
  50. Jerry

    Although I was not there, I have to believe there was at least one adult who was aware. To allow it to get to this point is criminal.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:13 pm |
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