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. Karoline, Los Angeles

    @ Jo Ann-And some kids are one way at home and another way when they are out with their buddies. There is peer pressure to be a bully too. Every bully usually needs a gang.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:51 pm |
  2. maureen

    Sounds like lets blame the school again. How many students are in this school? Everyone one of those students probably has issues.They are teenagers. The teachers were probably too busy trying to teach to the test. Did the parents contact school officials that their child was being bullied? My son attended a high school with over 1,200 students. He had to stand at lunch time because there was no seating available for that many kids.Teachers have very little opportunity to get to know students in these oversized high schools. They become just a number. Teachers are not the ones who have decided to warehouse kids to lower the budget.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:51 pm |
  3. A. Smith, Oregon

    Sounds like Scientology's disconnection is fair. Catholics threat and action of Ex-communication is far more invasive, cursing those excommunicated and threatening them with hell and damnation.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:51 pm |
  4. mike

    Sounds a lot like the Jehovas Witness. Same set up

    April 1, 2010 at 10:51 pm |
  5. sue r

    Regarding scientology- -I have always kept my spiritual faith and religion seperate. With so much going on in many of the churchs,,,I 'm glad I did.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:51 pm |
  6. Megan Dresslar - Shoreline, WA

    I agree complete all of you..... You have good point..... it is very important to do stop harrassed or teasing by bullying, need stop now without problem bully. You need to help call hotline to offer and help them back again..... Good point.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:50 pm |
  7. A. Smith, Oregon

    Looks like the current hierarchy of Scientology is protesting far to much in the outing of former Scientology hierarchy comments and reports.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:50 pm |
  8. Gail

    Very well said Mike Tillman!!

    April 1, 2010 at 10:49 pm |
  9. A. Smith, Oregon

    Eliminating bullying behavior in America's schools as in those around the world is not a overnight enchantment. It takes a concentrated effort lasting many months with the school family's, teachers, PTA and students to turn around a habitually accepted action into good social responsibility and behavior.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:48 pm |
  10. kelly

    Schools need policies of unacceptable behavior toward others. The term ""bullying" is misleading and does not encompass the underling core concept of empathy and the golden rule. We use standardize screening for academic progression but fail to screen students for emotional well being. Risk assessment is crucial, especially with high risk groups such as middle school children. What good is education without health and mental wellbeing?

    April 1, 2010 at 10:47 pm |
  11. Molly

    Sounds like a lot of "He said. She said." with regard to the reports pertaining to Scientology this week. Few facts.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:47 pm |
  12. Karoline, Los Angeles

    Hi all,

    @ sharion-I suggest you go to the principal again and tell him or her specific things you want done, like training about bullies for all the teachers. If nothing happens then get a lawyer. Seriously, get a lawyer and ask the lawyer to write letters to the school board.

    I don't know why so many administrators ignore parents, but they do. So maybe they will listen if you get a lawyer.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:47 pm |
  13. Lori, S. California, USA!

    How traumatic!

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

    Hawkins sounds like he was brainwashed. Just as I thought, they are a cult.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:46 pm |
  15. jenn

    Sorry to comment again. Maybe I'm too gullible but Dr. Sayer's explanation about the bullying incident in the library seems plausible to me. If the library's really big and the bullies were whispering so softly that kids two tables away couldn't hear, how could a teacher on the other side of the room hear anything?

    Also, if her relationship with a popular jock (who is among the alleged bullies) didn't end until Dec. as indicated on the timeline, it's entirely possible that she wasn't bullied while they were seeing each other. Therefore, the school didn't notice anything was wrong until after the Winter holiday break (early January).

    I just think we should wait until all the facts are known before calling anyone a liar.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:46 pm |
  16. Monica M. Williams

    Great Show tonight AC.

    Have a great Easter Holiday weekend everyone. : )

    April 1, 2010 at 10:45 pm |
  17. Catherine

    Why would the school notice? This goes on every day in every school in this country. Unfortunately sometimes there is a tragic ending. But let's not pretend this was an isolated incident. Schools need to have a zero tolerance policy for bullying including suspension or expulsion. Even more important parents need instill a sense of common decency in their childen. I agree with Elaine parents need to be parents – not friends

    April 1, 2010 at 10:45 pm |
  18. Chi

    Re Bully: Even when "no one came forward ..", teachers must have noticed something strange in their Ss' behaviours.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:45 pm |
  19. Gloria, Brooklyn, NY

    Always go for the simple and sweet looking gown for prom night!

    April 1, 2010 at 10:45 pm |
  20. David, Indiana

    I think it's completely fair to go at James Carville and Michael Gershon with the leveraging questions about these oddities of the RNC's spending, but in the situation with Superintendent we are as of yet establishing the facts and the situation is much more sensitive.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:44 pm |
  21. Mike Tillman

    Mr. Cooper,

    There are no real consequences for students who bully, disrupt classes, or cause other problems. Teachers cannot teach because they cannot discipline and the kids know it. They, the kids, have been given rights. Parents and administrators will not get tough with the real issues and now they have to suffer the consequences of children committing suicide. Would it not be better to have these unruly children experience some pain for their bad behavior? In other words "how's this new type of do nothing discipline working for you , parents and administrators?

    April 1, 2010 at 10:44 pm |
  22. Lucy

    These poor children who committed suicide had terrible psychiatric problems.

    The teens who mistreated them must be held responsible for their own behavior, and bullying must be stopped. But they ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE for the suicide of others. Neither are school, the principal or the teachers.

    It is unfair to blame others for such tragedy. Should their own parents be blamed? Why did they fail to remove them from the school where they were mistreated? Why did they fail to protect them?

    I do not think the parents are to blame. The whole society must react agains the bullying and against the suicides. We must find a way to raise healthier children, who may become healthier teens and then healthier adults.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:44 pm |
  23. Jo Ann, North Royalton, Ohio

    @Nelly, "I believe part of being a good parent is to teach your child to be compassionate toward all human beings."

    Unfortunately, children model what they see and chances are their parents aren't that compassionate. It is a mean world out there.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:44 pm |
  24. Cindy, Fort St. John, BC

    It is the adults who are ultimately responsible or this horrible tragedy, not the children. Children and teenagers are driven by the status quo. They flutter from trend to trend like flocks of birds darting here and there, driven by the social milieu. They are wreckless, and do not think about what they are doing. Although the children should be held accountable, the liability and responsibility lies with the adults who were there. They are the ones who are supposed to be monitoring and protecting the children in their care physically and emotionally. They are the ones who are responsible for taking control of the situation, and having the where-with-all to come up with solutions, to do what it takes to have a zero tolerance for any kind of bullying. Teachers are not superhuman either. Security personnel trained in behavior management would be a solution.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:43 pm |
  25. Karen, MN

    I liked her prom dress. My prom dresses were so boring!

    April 1, 2010 at 10:42 pm |
  26. David

    I suspect that many of the same people who are crying out for the school to take "action" would be the same people crying out if this were a different story about a school taking "too much" action against a student.
    The reality of a school administrator is that you have to be willing to punish bullies if you have any evidence at all. It puts you in precarious position at times.
    So if you want "action", don't cry out when you hear a story on the other end of the spectrum a month from now.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:42 pm |
  27. calisa

    My 15 year old niece was going through extreme bullying from class mates up until about two weeks ago. My sister went to the principal and teacher, who all seemed to say they couldn't do anything without proof. She is the sweetest and most beautiful young lady you could meet inside and out. My sister even went so far as to talk to some of the girls parents, which proved to be the most effective. I don't think a lot of parents are aware of the way their children behave when they are at school. I think the Schools District's are not doing enough to keep children safe in this age of technology, were bullying is on a new level! This issue is on going and my niece's parents are looking for another school for my niece and nephew to attend next year.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:42 pm |
  28. Kirk Flowers

    I was a member of the sea org in the 80s and the "church's" policy at that time in dealing with suppressive persons was just as that man is saying....you were shunned and ostracized from the organization. I can also say that their policies would not have changed over the years since they are based on the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard

    April 1, 2010 at 10:42 pm |
  29. Laurie

    My son was bullied and humiliated for years @ school. He had a break down. I was told that getting involved would have made things worse for him. The bullies always deny it and I had no proof. He is in therapy and in is doing great. But I feel so guilty that I didn't do more to stop it.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:42 pm |
  30. kelly

    Schools need policies of unacceptable behavior toward others. The term ""bullying" is misleading and does not encompass the underling core concept of empathy and the golden rule. We use standardize screening for academic progression but fail to screen students for emotional well being. Risk assessment is crucial, especially with high risk groups such as middle school children.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:42 pm |
  31. Nelly

    I believe part of being a good parent is to teach your child to be compassionate toward all human beings.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:41 pm |
  32. Jerri Larkin

    One of the things you and other journalists can do is to give the specifics about bullying, because many people think it's the old "lunch money or knuckle sandwich" or duking it out in the lockeroom. What exactly do these kids do their victims? Tell the truth and I think decent and reasonable human beings demand that school officials who collect people's children and refuse to do everything possible to keep them safe, should lose their jobs. This is horrible and totally unacceptable because, as at least one case has proven, young bullies grow up to be bullying-addicted adults who still attack children-to death.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:41 pm |
  33. Sherry N. Calif.

    Hi Everybody, Here is my two cents. Parents should be responsible for their children and their behavioral problems. Parents also have to be informed by the school if their child misbehaves. The school should know what is going down under their roof to protect all children attending. Are they looking the other way? Favoritism? When they are under the supervision of the school then the school should be on top of what goes down under their roof while these children are in their hands.
    For crying out loud we need bullying therapies, coming out therapies, therapy for addiction for X-box, WII and all those computer and video games along with carpel tunnel braces, etc anything anyone else wants to add?

    April 1, 2010 at 10:41 pm |
  34. Christine Cummins -- Houston, Texas


    And the same can be said of liberals. But that's another issue for another episode..

    April 1, 2010 at 10:40 pm |
  35. Vince

    Hello all,

    Anderson – I have been following your series on Scientology and it's interesting how the two sides of the story are running parellel to each other where both sides are holding on to their stories so convincingly. Digging deeper – the question is how do we as the onlookers know which side is telling the honest truth...Should we believe the former members or should we believe the Scientology church? How is the evidence with respect to what both sides are saying validated so that the truth can bottomout?

    April 1, 2010 at 10:40 pm |
  36. mary prevoteau

    This young girl wanted to live. She wanted to experience life. She made plans to go to the dance, two days before she died. She tried everything her young self could think of. These kids wouldn't even let her enjoy a single moment. This nation needs to stop focusing on who's got what, or who is better than who. We need social justice, tolerance, acceptance, diversity.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:39 pm |
  37. sharion

    i have a son that is getting bulled @ his school. i am worried something might happen to him. he weights 77 pounds and in the 7th grade. i have talked to the school about it and still nothing done.only one teacher looks out for him, and i thank God for her

    April 1, 2010 at 10:39 pm |
  38. Jo Ann, North Royalton, Ohio

    @Sharon Hastings, "it seems like they find no shortage of ways to shoot themselves in the foot."

    You would think they would be on their best behavior. If this is their best behavior they have serious problems.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:39 pm |
  39. Montana Spencer

    Is it just me or does it seem like these former members that are now going against the church are former members that were removed for being involved in immoral activities... isnt this normal with any buisness or church?

    April 1, 2010 at 10:39 pm |
  40. Christine Cummins -- Houston, Texas

    I completely disagree. I don't think anyone is saying we should NOT hold the parents of the bullies accountable for being bad influences.
    i think what we're saying is that it's quite pathetic, almost horrifying, on the school's part that all they're willing to do is pretend they had absolutely no idea what was going on, and therefore, the kid's death isn't any of their faults.

    I agree that we shouldn't blame all teachers for these suicides, because there are certainly some very good teachers out there who stick up for their students, but I think it's pretty clear that not all teachers "do their best", or else the administration would have become aware of the issue MUCH sooner.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:39 pm |
  41. Karen, MN

    Your report on scientology is wonderful. Great reporting.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:38 pm |
  42. William

    Too bad the district attorney can't go after that superintendent and principal. Where are the class action lawyers?!? South Hadley needs new school district management immediately, top to bottom!!!

    April 1, 2010 at 10:38 pm |
  43. Bonnie

    Nicole from the Netherlands – thank you for your thank you. I am a middle school librarian and I would die for any of my students. I was bullied too as a kid. There are so many questions to this topic and not enough answers. I don't know how to fix it, but I do know that I can be a good teacher with my eyes and ears alert always. It starts with all of us...and it will take all of us.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:37 pm |
  44. tim

    In the interview the supt. stated it wasn't fair to our principal to question his internal investigation. Well... it wasn't fair for Phoebe to have to die either. The fox guarding the hen house once again.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:37 pm |
  45. Gail Delp

    Zero tolerance is the only solution. It is simple, expel them. Maybe then parents will actually parent their children. A bullies words are a weapon and dangerous to children. At 9 my son started talking about committing suicide, he was and still is at 20 years old the recipient of verbal abuse simply because he has cerebral palsy, not something he had any control over. There is no justification for bullying, they need to be removed from the school to protect all students.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:37 pm |
  46. Andre'

    Wow....what level of intelligence do you need to have to wok in government? "A country (in this case Guam) will capsize if there's too many people"......wow!!

    April 1, 2010 at 10:37 pm |
  47. Paula, Colorado

    There can be a lot of hypocrisy among "conservatives".

    April 1, 2010 at 10:36 pm |
  48. Jo Ann, North Royalton, Ohio

    Anderson, Strip clubs, sex lines, and who knows what else is what is going on, but let's not forget Eliot Spitzer!

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

    Regarding Planet Washington,,,RNC phone hotline ?? ok M. Steele,,fess up!!

    April 1, 2010 at 10:36 pm |
  50. kris

    We live in Colorado (home to the Columbine Masacre) . My daughter has been bullied since the 2nd grade (she's now in 7th) She had an older boy on her bus tell her " I hate you I'm going to take my gun and blow your head off) his punishment was to miss recess for a week. We were so hated at the school after this we had to transfer to another school. Neither the superintendent, or principal took any action against this boy. I even reported the incident to the Colorado board of education. They never responded. My daughter has had her breasts grabbed, called horrible names, hit. The school never does anything. We live in Steamboat Springs, Co. Bullying is alive and well. The bullies are loved and supported by the schools.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:36 pm |
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