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Should bullying be prosecuted?

March 31st, 2010
11:20 AM ET

More students have been removed from a Massachusetts school in the investigation of a purported bullying campaign against a 15-year-old girl who committed suicide, a school official said Tuesday.

Phoebe Prince was a victim of bullying.
Phoebe Prince was a victim of bullying.

Nine students at the school have been charged in what a prosecutor described Monday as a months-long campaign of bullying that led to the suicide in January of Phoebe Prince.

"We have taken disciplinary action with an additional small group of students and they have been removed from the high school," Christine Sweklo, assistant superintendent of South Hadley, Massachusetts, public schools said Tuesday in a news release.

She did not provide details on the number of students, their identities or what involvement they might have had in events leading up to the suicide.

Prince's body was found hanging in the stairway leading to her family's second-floor apartment in South Hadley, Northwestern District Attorney Elizabeth D. Scheibel said Monday in announcing charges against nine students.

"It appears that Phoebe's death on January 14 followed a torturous day for her when she was subjected to verbal harassment and physical abuse," she said.

But that day's events were not isolated; they "were the culmination of a nearly three-month campaign of verbally abusive, assaultive behavior and threats of physical harm toward Phoebe on school grounds by several South Hadley students," Scheibel said.

We want to know what you think.

Is bullying a crime? Should it be prosecuted?

Please leave your comments below and remember to leave where you're writing from.

Posted by
Filed under:  General
soundoff (82 Responses)
  1. Hugo M.

    It dies not help kinds to be treated as criminals. It helps kids to be educated under a good moral code so that they do not do it for the well being of other kids. How does this education should happen is another question. Community involvement, healthy environment at home, recreational activities for the kids. We are a society filled with smart parents. we could make this work if we really wanted.

    March 31, 2010 at 12:23 pm | Reply
  2. stephen

    It is a crime and it ought to be prosecuted.

    Bullying is an issue at all levels of society and is prevalent in the corporate world. For the victim one of the biggest "hurts" is the frustration in not being able to have the issue stopped and rectified without reprisals. If we believe in the equality of man (and woman) and the pursuit of liberty then it ought to be an unassailable right to be treated reasonably and fairly every day of your life.

    And especially if you are a child. What standard do we want to set for others to follow. We cannot look away if someone is victimised, and we know it.

    Please be creative with your solutions to bullying and ensure that it is dealt with early and quickly. And build a strong safety net to support victims in dealing with their trauma and still become strong,mature, caring individuals.

    Stephen
    Sydney
    Australia

    March 31, 2010 at 12:40 pm | Reply
  3. Mrs_H

    Yes, bullying is a crime, and it should be prosecuted. In-school, out of school, this kind of organized harassment campaign against a child or teenager is unacceptable. I'm 56 years old, and I still have nightmares about the bullying experiences I had as an 11-year-old.

    I am resilient, but many kids are not. I funnelled my fear and anger into a drive to succeed, and I did. But I also wound up unable to trust people, with a "thick skin" that has kept me isolated and nearly friendless for 40+ years. I survived, but at a huge price.

    My "crime" back then was being the "smart new kid" who had slightly better clothes than the tight-knit gang of girls who ruled the school I transferred to in sixth grade. The taunts, attacks, and constant barrage of bullying was unremitting. Every time I see one of these suicides, my heart goes out to the victim.

    March 31, 2010 at 12:49 pm | Reply
  4. Jedidiah Mohring

    This is a tough issue. On the one hand, prosecuting a 14-15 year old sounds intuitively excessive. On the other hand, bullying shouldn't be any more acceptable inside the schoolroom, than it is outside. And in fact, many children- straight and gay, white and minority- are being daily tortured for no good reason. Make no mistake, bullying can be very cruel. So, I suggest that bullying should be prosecuted appropriately to the child's age, which may only require a very moderate punishment, and a record that would be expunged after the child attains the age of 18. I'm not a lawyer, so I can't be sure of the details. But the problem needs to be more seriously addressed.

    March 31, 2010 at 12:55 pm | Reply
  5. Glenn

    I think it's sad that one human being can push another to the point of taking their own life. However, in the end the person taking their own life is the ONLY one responsable for that act. The world offers a life-time of constant pressure and abuse in various forms and we cannot legislate human interaction or the forces that those relationships put into play amongst us. It's unfortunate that this young lady felt the need to commit suicide, but it is truly a crime to label and scar the young people who have been charged with her death because they simply lacked the good sense to leave her in peace.

    March 31, 2010 at 12:56 pm | Reply
  6. Steve

    Absolutely these savages should be prosecuted, along with their parents... as a short guy, I was picked on constantly in school, andI had to learn to be tough. My parents moved a lot because of my dad's job, so I learned to take the offensive, finding the biggest bully in the school and beating the crap out of him, with a rock in my hand if I had to. That usually worked.

    This is beyond bullying, this is murder.

    March 31, 2010 at 12:56 pm | Reply
  7. eliza

    I can say with regret that I was a bully when I was a child. But I was also picked on too. People aren't just born bullies, they are usually kids with bad parenting (my dad bullied me). I'm not saying that parents or bullies should be prosecuted, but if you tackle this issue from the standpoint that "bullies are all bad people who deserve to suffer", you won't change these bullies. Only by being shown kindness and love will these kids not only STOP bullying, but WANT to stop bullying- prosecute them and they'll stop it, but the tendency won't be driven out of them. That's why these kids (bullies) should be punished, but shown love and support alongside so that they can change.

    I agree with Glenn above that the person who took their own life is the one truly responsible. What Phoebe must have gone through was terrible, but bullies do grow up and look back on their mistakes and feel absolutely horrid. Who we are when we are children is different from who we are when we grow up, and these children who bullied Phoebe do not deserve to suffer and hate themselves forever, although they certainly deserve some form of punishment right now- though I'm not sure the government should be the ones to dole this out, unless the abuse was physical.

    March 31, 2010 at 1:13 pm | Reply
  8. Jim

    Yes,absolutely it should be a crime! And if it isn't stopped, expect violence to return to our schools...

    Remember Columbine? It cold happen again if steps aren't taken.

    March 31, 2010 at 1:14 pm | Reply
  9. April

    What about the school administration? Most of the articles say that at least one teacher saw what was happening and did nothing. It wasn't taken seriously or they didn't care, and yet I don't hear about any of the school staff being fired.

    March 31, 2010 at 1:15 pm | Reply
  10. Rick

    As a Police officer in Texas I see a lot of bullys and the damage they do. Yes it is a crime and should be treated as one. This action damages a person for the rest of their lives and should not be tollerated in the schools either.

    March 31, 2010 at 1:22 pm | Reply
  11. TMANN

    Bullying is the wrong word to describe this. Harassment is a crime. More defined towards “Hate Crimes” towards race – harassment as a whole is criminal. Yes all of them should be tried for this loss of life; legislation needs to be adapted to address this.

    March 31, 2010 at 1:23 pm | Reply
  12. Piesual

    I can't belive what I'm reading, you Americans want to prosecute and legislative over everything, rather than focus on education and social progress. If you try to solve with law what you should solve with education, you will have a very orderly but ignorant society.

    March 31, 2010 at 1:24 pm | Reply
  13. Fred Jones

    Yes, bullying is a crime, and yes, they should be prosecuted. That this went so far is more than a tragedy, it is criminal. The school staffer who witnessed bullying of the victim on the last day, but did nothing about it, should also experience some kind of punishment.

    March 31, 2010 at 1:28 pm | Reply
  14. Linda

    Absolutely! Adults are protected in the workplace but children aren't protected in school? What sense does that make? Bullying is unacceptable period.

    As long as the adults in children's lives shrug their shoulders and excuse it as simply part of growing up...it will never change!

    March 31, 2010 at 1:31 pm | Reply
  15. alice

    I think that more than punishment this has to be tackled at home. Usually children act this way because at home they receive that treatment. This should be handled by psichiatrists instead of by lawyers, that is what the kids really need. Somehow, I feel,that what the kids need is a lot of love and understanding. And if after receiving counsel, these kids keep on with it, then punishment should be given.

    March 31, 2010 at 1:36 pm | Reply
  16. Mary Smith

    ....and yet the Christains are trying to block anti-bullying laws. What's wrong with these people?

    March 31, 2010 at 1:43 pm | Reply
  17. Audrey

    Without a doubt! I hope these kids spend a good amount of time in jail. I also think their parents should be held accountable in some capacity, as well as, any teachers or staff in that school who supposedly stood by idly. Shame on all of them.

    March 31, 2010 at 1:43 pm | Reply
  18. SS

    Bullying does not go away only by educating about it in school to the kids. It's way deeper than that. The families have to be educated. These kids are somewhat a reflection of their own parents, and relations within their families. Mothers and fathers have to be educated first on how to raise their children and how they should be relating to the rest of the community..Since that's a remote possibility, bullying will always be there so may be that's why it should be treated as a crime to at least minimize it.

    March 31, 2010 at 1:49 pm | Reply
  19. bob m

    Of course it should b e prosecuted....and the school officials who ignored (and lied) also.

    March 31, 2010 at 1:55 pm | Reply
  20. John

    These teens should have been taught by their parents of being kind and tolerant of others. They (teens) must be punished for their actions and the parents as well should be held accountable for allowing their children to be a menace and danger to society. This is intolerable and deserves more than a slap on the hands as punishment.

    March 31, 2010 at 2:01 pm | Reply
  21. bob Massachusetts

    What about the adminstration??
    Where are the charges there??
    This was reported to them and they did nothing
    This behavior has been part of the culture in this school for a long time. It is unexcusable that someone had to die before some eyes have been opened.

    March 31, 2010 at 2:02 pm | Reply
  22. Keira

    We've all been bullied at one point or another in school. However the extent of the bullying has reached new heights nowadays. To have these "campaigns" that last for months at a time & that end so tragically, YES I think bullying should be prosecuted. These kids were directly responsible for someone else's misery & consequentially the end of a life. It's time to take a tougher stance on this, most definitely.

    March 31, 2010 at 2:03 pm | Reply
  23. Dale

    Those students involved should have the full extent of their cruel behavior exposed and prosecuted. The bully mentality of a few, parents included should not be overlooked. Sadly, this girl saw no other way to end the desparate feelings of helplessness she endured. The school must also take responsibility for not addressing it adequately, as should the students and parents involved. Children learn from their parents and peers. Civility and adversity should be taught from the earliest grades onward.

    March 31, 2010 at 2:05 pm | Reply
  24. JB

    Yes, bullies should be prosecuted. The people who bullied Phoebe are high school students, not primary school children. They should also be punished for manslaughter and given an appropriate sentence during which they should receive counselling/therapy because they need help too. Letting them go gives the message that they are not responsible for their actions and it sets a precedent, and this does nothing to deter others from doing the same thing in other schools.

    March 31, 2010 at 2:06 pm | Reply
  25. Louise

    As a former victim of bullying at school, I think punishment is in order, although more of an educational-type punishment. Putting a juvenile into the prison system will not solve anything. These bullies need psychological help.

    However, no one really said specifically why Phoebe was being bullied. If it had to do with her approach toward her peers, she had something to learn, something to change in herself. If it had to do with looks that can't be changed (skin color, blemishes, etc.), she needed help from the school and her environment, defense from her peers.

    I was born with near-blindness and have always had to wear thick glasses. As a result, I was picked on by the whole class and couldn't defend myself. I remember almost dying once, when a group of "classmates" ran after me, cornered me in the basement of a house in construction and threw rocks at me. Since they had broken my glasses, I was completely helpless.

    Fortunately, my mother found me and chased the kids away or I would be another dead victim of bullies. At 65, I still have nightmares about dying in that basement.

    March 31, 2010 at 2:09 pm | Reply
  26. pops in palm bay fl

    let a 6 year old bring a tiny toy gun to school and he is severely punished. the National Guard may be called in. These kids know that they can 'get away' with murder in this environment of 'it's not my fault' attitudes. we have let the NEA and local administrators and unions create this environment. But, they're just a subset of todays society. Why weren't teachers/administrators patrolling the halls and disciplining this behavior? they're all too busy complaining about budget cuts and uninvolved parents to do their job. charge them all, prosecute them all.

    March 31, 2010 at 2:11 pm | Reply
  27. Jeremy Smith

    I was bullied in high school until I took a bat to one of the bullies. Busted him up good. And made it clear to the remaining few that I would hunt them down one by one. I was left alone and gained my respect and on the most part enjoyed the benefits that the school had to offer. Of interest, I had a friend that committed suicide because his parents abandoned him to his grandmother and then was relentlessly bullied for several months. Between the depression and the bullying, he took his own life. If I would have known the depth of the bullying beforehand, I would have rallied my brothers and my bat and protected him. I am quite sure that school officials knew, but were reluctant to punish the kids of rich families.

    March 31, 2010 at 2:15 pm | Reply
  28. pops in palm bay fl

    I would suggest that the school system read it's own Mission Statement and then evaluate itself.

    March 31, 2010 at 2:16 pm | Reply
  29. albert

    It should not be a crime. If it is, then it's a thin line away from charging man whose wife committed suicide because of his infidelity! There are more factors that play into whether someone commits suicide than just one individual bully.

    March 31, 2010 at 2:17 pm | Reply
  30. Dixie Burns

    How can a teachers conscience be clear when they surely had to witness such a hate crime and not respond to that poor girls assistance. The teachers and administration in that school system should be removed and it seems to me that some classes in college for teachers should be on how to respond to bullying. Its a good thing it wasn't my child, because I would find a good attorney.

    March 31, 2010 at 2:26 pm | Reply
  31. ruth

    Bullying is done everywhere, except that no one hears about, I know in
    my daughters case it is done by her employer, a Dr. I know that she gets harrassed some days more than other and she can't say anything because she will be fired. When the economy gets better she plans to leave. What else can she do?

    March 31, 2010 at 2:27 pm | Reply
  32. Bob

    We all agree that children should be taught better, however there is sort of a mob mentality that is ruling behavior. Parents are probably not aware of how it works. School officials are trained to understand this type of behavior and should have intercepted and controlled the situation. This being said, those responsible should be charged. School officials in the know should be fired. Parents will be punished by following their children to court.

    March 31, 2010 at 2:31 pm | Reply
  33. JonnyStorm21@aol.com

    Gentlemen:

    We teach by best example. Why are you shocked? Rescind the 1964 Supreme Court decision on school prayer. The word "sepa'rat'ion" is not in the U.S. Constitution for good reason. There is a rat in in!

    Our Founders were for the most part very religious and the real crime is that out of fear of "insulting" a few we put us all at risk.

    P.S. N.O. NUKES!

    March 31, 2010 at 2:35 pm | Reply
  34. Mc Kwai

    This was a months long organized campaign of terrorizing that included multipile bullies. To suggest they are somehow misguided and can be cured with "love and kindness" is not allowing them to face the seriousness of what they have done. NONE of these kids came from poverty or what you can consider harsh up bringing. In addition their parents should be charged with negligence att he minimum. This is a rampant problem in America that no one seems to want to recognize.

    March 31, 2010 at 2:43 pm | Reply
  35. Linda

    yes, they should be executed.

    March 31, 2010 at 2:47 pm | Reply
  36. Jan Armstrong

    Not only should the bullies be punished, but so should the school administrators, faculty, and other employees who watched it go on day after day and failed to address it. Who is in charge here – the bullies or the adults?

    March 31, 2010 at 2:48 pm | Reply
  37. Age of Darkness

    I have been following closely the media commentary on the tragic murder of Phoebe Price. That's right..it was a societal murder. The poor girl died because of the criminal negligence on the part of friends, parents and authorities.

    The friends and colleagues should have alerted parents. The authorites knew what was going on but chose to ignore it..leaving this tragic girl to a pack of feral dogs in the guise of children.

    The time has come to recognise that children are increasingly mature at earlier ages. If we feel that the age of consent, sex education, driving and drinking should be reduced, why not of criminal responsiblity. In my society a man is judged a man at 13 years of age. We learn there are severe consequences to harming others.

    The ultimate blame for this situation lies with the parents of the nine demons that haunted this girl. It is their teachings and behaviour that taught them to behave in this horrid way...so be it that their children accordingly and justly be severely punished.

    Phoebe Price God bless you...

    March 31, 2010 at 2:54 pm | Reply
  38. Paulus Atreides

    Anyone suggesting that bringing back school prayer would have any affect on bullying is living in a fantasy world of their own design and not the real world.
    Bullying is a crime and should be prosecuted. Its the only way to stop it because most parents are too stupid to police their own kids. As long as their kid is doing the bullying, they don't care because its not hurting them or their kids.

    March 31, 2010 at 2:55 pm | Reply
  39. J

    I feel very strongly about this.This story reasonates with me very much.

    Why?

    Because I was bullied a lot at school.And I still feel the hurt and anger VERY much today.

    It happened to me many times.It made my life hell.I was unhappy and became nasty because of it.Those experiences have shaped me very much.

    I still want to exact revenge on those who bullies.

    So!

    Hell yes to prosecution to bullies!

    March 31, 2010 at 2:58 pm | Reply
  40. Cody

    This event happened no less that 10 miles away from where I live and the public outrage over this issue has been a major story in the past few months. Personally i believe that it is the people in charge of the school to notice signs of verbally abusive, assaultive behavior and threats of physical harm toward Phoebe. It's not like it only happened outside of school but it also happened in school. This is a direct failure of the staff of the teachers. I have also heard from local friends and family that statutory rape involved, even in the case that that happened, which would be horrible. In the end the blame can go right down to the students who are being charged.

    March 31, 2010 at 3:00 pm | Reply
  41. Chelsey

    This is a very interesting issue. Should bullying be prosecuted? Human beings learn through imitation, most notably at exceptionally young ages. Violence is taught most often through cartoons and other media portrayal, even when our parents argue. Is it a crime, then, that a child would hit another child simply because that's what they learned to do? Admittedly, it would be quite difficult to prosecute bullying simply because of age differences. In my opinion, it would be better to see these young people in the care of a counselor or in therapy.

    I've noticed several mentions of a staff member witnessing the act(s) and not doing anything to assist. This is a phenomena known as the bystander effect. It's very sad, but it explains much about the thought process of these people.

    It's horrible that bullying would lead to suicide, but it does happen. My heart goes out to the families of Ms. Prince and the students convicted.

    March 31, 2010 at 3:02 pm | Reply
  42. Norm Stephenson

    Of course they should be put away! If you let this type of thing go, a lot worse will follow. Today's liberals are responsible for this kind of conduct, because they encourage the idea that nobody should be held to account for their actions. High School kids know very well what they are doing. To those of you who don't what their lives ruined. What about the victim? Have you no shame?

    March 31, 2010 at 3:02 pm | Reply
  43. Omar Haleem

    In the wake of the string of tragic deaths by suicide, it should be presecuted as well as have laws in place to ensure that this sort of behaviour is never allowed and strickt action should be taken against those who aid, abet and are involved in such activities. Scxhools are at the grassroots of a society's evolution. by ensuring that justice is meted out to those who break moral laws at a young age, it will ensure that they grow up to understand that they are responsible for the way that they treat each other. It is equally shameful that adults sometimes also involve themselves in such activities.

    March 31, 2010 at 3:08 pm | Reply
  44. God Shed His Grace On Thee

    American secondary school students TERRORIZE an Irish girl until she commits suicide.

    American Amanda Knox murders her British roommate in Italy.

    ...and do we all remember the photo of the little American loser who had her Iraqi prisoner on a leash?

    What is your problem, America?

    March 31, 2010 at 3:20 pm | Reply
  45. plasticalien

    Bullying is a form of terrorism to prevent someone from living their life free and in safety.As someone who was openly gay in high school in the 90's I know this is true.

    March 31, 2010 at 3:22 pm | Reply
  46. Felicia

    I absolutely think that bullies should be prosecuted along with the parents, and school administrators. Where are all the adults when these students are being tormented? Its a shame that these kids are being bullied and no one is doing anything about it. I just don't think that this should be taken lightly. Kids are killing themselves because of whats happening in SCHOOL! School is where you learn and make friends, not hide in the darn bathroom because you are scared you will be attacked and teased all day. I think these kids that are doing this needs to go to Juvie so they can see what its like to be on the receiving end of the game.

    March 31, 2010 at 3:29 pm | Reply
  47. Cindy

    The bully's should be prosecuted. Their teasing and tormenting is a form of abuse and a crime. However, I can't help but wonder if Phoebe was prone to suicide. If the bullying didn't happen, would something else have pushed her over the edge?

    March 31, 2010 at 3:29 pm | Reply
  48. Jennifer

    When my kids were in middle school we paid big bucks for a specialist to come and train adults and children about bullying.
    Her bottom line to my children was "if you see bullying, just step in and stop it" if you stand there you are part of the problem. She wanted piers to stop piers.
    We left there and I sat my kids down and said if you want your nose busted then step in, other wise the administrator making $110,000 a year should do his/her job and stop the bullies. They are trained, have power and know the system. You are a child and should not be burdened with adult responsibility.
    This was highlighted by the school counselor sitting in the back gabbing with an old friends through the whole instructional period. I thought it showed her as a bully, making us suffer with her droning on while she enjoyed herself. Without a union I would of fired her that night. The attendance was over 300 and no one could get her to stop.

    March 31, 2010 at 3:49 pm | Reply
  49. Friedrich Schellhorn

    Bullying is terrorism behaviour breaking moral laws
    Bullying is a crime and should be prosecuted. Since most parents are too stupid to police their own kids.
    These Kid types, in elementry to collage have to be supervised. By their parents at home, or grand parents between, and specially when they are at school or activities, parties, or events. No loop holes.
    Not all kids, are bullies, but those that tend or are know to be, should be under supervision 7 by 24. Profiling? yes!
    It is the responsibility of the parents, ( who most likely are the same types), to keep their brud under control. If this is not possible, then there are bording schools and institutions that can be used to supervise these types of kids.

    March 31, 2010 at 3:53 pm | Reply
  50. LAM1

    Civility should be taught, but it must be enforced on those who aren't taught or won't listen.
    Good upbringing is a combination of positive and negative reinforcement. Just punishing is ineffective, but so is just cuddling and lecturing without meaningful consequences. Bullies should know that their behavior can hurt someone for life, or even drive them to suicide. It's serious business, not harmless antics, and it should be treated as such, with serious consequences for offenders. In appropriate cases (when bullying is severe, continued, or leads to significant harm), criminal prosecution should not be ruled out.

    March 31, 2010 at 3:54 pm | Reply
  51. Assia

    It should be prosecuted, bullying at its extreme is serious psychological abuse that leaves permanent consequences!
    Mobbing is illegal, bullying is the school version of it.
    Teenagers are no children, they know right from wrong, and the fact that they enjoy abusing their peers is horrendous!
    I hope they get convicted and think long and hard in their jail cells about the lives they destroyed.

    March 31, 2010 at 4:06 pm | Reply
  52. Jurgen R. Brul

    Hello CNN friends,

    According to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child,
    Bullying is a crime!

    Conclusion:
    The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC),
    the United Nations Children's Fund(UNICEF),
    the World Health Organization (WHO) and
    the Child Helpline International Must Connect to Maintain the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in order to
    protect our children from any harm!

    Advice:
    Let us Now Connect to make our world
    a Better Healthier and Beautiful World
    for You and for Me!

    Greetings,
    Jurgen R. Brul
    Hometown: Paramaribo
    Country: Suriname
    Latin-American

    March 31, 2010 at 4:10 pm | Reply
  53. Susan

    Regardless of how the bullies are handled, whether prosecuted or "educated", they need to be removed from the school so the victims can move forward.

    No, this should not be part of growing up and whoever thinks that should be ashamed of themselves for shrugging off a real problem.

    Yes, this begins at home, and I bet you those family members don't think anything is wrong. Since nothing can be done about that, it needs to be taken care of in school.

    GET THOSE BULLIES OUT OF SCHOOL.

    March 31, 2010 at 4:11 pm | Reply
  54. Devayony

    In animal kingdom, "might is right", and no questions asked: where as in humanity, "live and let live" is the policy. Bullying is worse than homicide: it kills a person's mental stability and pushes to the brink of suicide, which in effect is double killing.
    Bullying is a mental disease, which cannot be cured, but can be and should be controlled.

    March 31, 2010 at 4:15 pm | Reply
  55. Ms. F

    Yes Bullying should be considered a crime! Yes people that bully should face criminal prosecution! Bullying is crule and definately can lead to much more serious problems. It is a form of abuse. Mental and physical abuse is a crime. These types of crimes are all related and all lead to very serious damaging outcomes. This is a definately a gang type of mentality and shoul not be allowed, especially in our schools. Someone who bullies should be made to face concenquences and perform some type of public service during their free time. Parents should be notified and also be held to some type of public service. Then the parents will be more involved with how their children act outside of the home.

    March 31, 2010 at 4:21 pm | Reply
  56. flyakite13

    When adults bully other adults, it's a crime called "harassment". Adults get restraining orders.

    I think kids who are bullied should get $0 restraining orders against bullies; bullies need to know they can't act like that in the grown-up world, and the victims need to know it's not ok to take abuse from others.

    from CA

    March 31, 2010 at 4:28 pm | Reply
  57. Devayony

    from Houston, Texas.

    March 31, 2010 at 4:31 pm | Reply
  58. Abdo K Shair

    Bullying occurs everyday in schools nationwide, and it is deplorable and hurtful behavior. Prosecution of such behavior is not a solution as the perpetrators, in the majority of cases, do not realize the severity and far reaching consequences of their actions. What is needed is closer supervision of students, preemption of bullying, and more interpersonal education.
    The events that led to the girls suicide are tragic. Prosecution would be making the bullies in this case scape goats but must still be appropriately accountable and in a manner that will lead to a process that prevents recurrence.

    March 31, 2010 at 4:34 pm | Reply
  59. wade sabean

    Yes bullying such as what happened to that poor girl should be a crime. Not only should the students that organised and did the constant bullying but also the teachers that knew about it and did nothing should also be arrested and punished. No one should loose their children to these PUNKS that set out to deliberately destroy that girl. There is NO excuse for it.

    These children get together in the schools and because they group in a gang or group of gangs they deliberately focuss on children that are outside a gang or click and constantly bully them. It should NOT be tolerated at all. Laws have become too lax and liberal and allow almost anything to go on. Also, the laws prevent parents from disciplining their children. Its almost come to the point where it is very difficult to bring up children and make them mind because the laws are against you.

    There should be a strong law to prevent this from happening again and to ensure that those that commiting these types of crimes whether of their own initiative or coordinated by others should receive severe punishments.

    March 31, 2010 at 4:46 pm | Reply
  60. Leslie

    The fact is that if kids know that bullying is sanctioned by the law the chances are they would not do it. Bullying is a terrible terrible ¨crime¨. I personally had to suffer it during three years. I would wake up in a sweat knowing that at the school gate they were waiting for me, and others, to be punched, kicked and ridiculed. The thought of dying often crossed my mind which made me feel better, because I wouldn´t have to put up with it anymore. But I didn´t know how to go about it, thank God.

    March 31, 2010 at 4:46 pm | Reply
  61. Trish Lindsey Jaggers

    As someone who was severely bullied (and survived and thrived), I can say that ending one's life is not the answer; however, is this question EVER asked of young people??? NO. I know folks who'd rather die than be ridiculed. They are not to blame. Those who ridicule are to blame (and often their parents who choose–or had rather–not to know what's going on in their kids' lives).

    Perhaps utilizing these extreme examples as "NOT a way out of being bullied" (and offering suggestions to the contrary–surviving) is a positive step in the direction that may help curb teen suicide. However, that doesn't make the "bullies" go away.

    I'm not the "suicide" archetype, but I know those who are. These stories rock me to the core.

    Bullying should be fully prosecuted, even if these folks will later "grow up" to resent having done it. "Kids will be kids" is not an excuse. I was a kid, and I didn't taunt or mistreat others because of it. Prosecution should be the "threat" that stops this behavior before it starts (and hurts the innocent). Parents should be held more accountable for their children's behavior. (I called in the students and the parents in my complaint against the school when my daughter was being bullied. I threatened monetary lawsuits–against parents and school–as well as prison sentences for the kids. The bullying stopped that day–as if by magic.)

    I DO NOT CARE who's sorry "later" in their life for bullying another. (Good for you–a little late, though.) When one person hurts another, that person should be held LEGALLY responsible for that particular hurt. "Sorry" is an after-effect that comes FAR TOO LATE to undo damages done to another human being–especially those who are buried because of it.

    'Nuff said.

    tlj

    March 31, 2010 at 4:52 pm | Reply
  62. wade sabean

    Children that are bullys in school, in most cases, become bullys in their adult life. This can be in the form of those that beat their wives, beat their children, assault people, become real criminals, etc. This not a case of one or two persons just bully kids at school. It was a large group of individuals that coordinated and organised a sustained bullying campaign on one innocent girl. Her only crime was to be a girl friend of someone ans another girl did not like it.

    This group of teenagers, if not severely punished, will do it again and again if they are not severely punished. Others will do it as well. Why should they live happily ever after? They cause someone to kill themselves, and it be considered that this may have been their intent all along!!!

    People who sya those poor teenagers are really lacking in judgement!!! They are siding with the criminals and not the victim. That victim is dead and she would not have been dead if those teenageres (monsters) did do their campaign to kill her.

    Those teenages do not deserve to live happy lives as they destroy a family. They deserve no good future where they can sit around and laugh about what they did!!! They gave that young girl such a bullying campaign that there was no recourse for her. Not even the teachers bothered to stop it and they knew it was going on at such a level.

    Bullying should be considered a crime and should treated as one and anyone doing it should be punished. Its easier to stop while they are children and teenagers than to stop it once they have done bullying as an adult.

    Zero tolerance should be the accepted response to bullying.

    March 31, 2010 at 5:01 pm | Reply
  63. Phyllis Pelletier

    It is way past time that anyone should put up with bullying. It is a crime and should be dealt with as such. There have been people over the years that I haven't cared for, but bullying them is not the answer. Everyone, including people who do not agree with me, or whom I don't care for have the right to exist.

    March 31, 2010 at 5:03 pm | Reply
  64. btfarrell

    These animals should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. They deserve to spend the rest of their lives at the bottom of a deep dark hole.

    March 31, 2010 at 5:10 pm | Reply
  65. Jeanie O

    Yes, I think all bullies should be punished. If nothing is done, then when they do become adult age (note I didn't say adults), they can kill someone and not think anything of it. A punishment at an early age can certainly put them on the right track.

    March 31, 2010 at 5:13 pm | Reply
  66. Ms. P

    Not only was this young lady verbally harassed but she was also physically abused by these kids. Physical abuse is a crime, therefore, these kids should be punished appropriately.

    March 31, 2010 at 5:33 pm | Reply
  67. CBC

    If a minor commits murder, the fact that said individual is a minor does not change the fact that their crime is a crime.

    "Bullying" is simply the blanket term given to assault, battery, and robbery committed by minors against other minors.

    Should it be prosecuted? Should child murderers be prosecuted? Damned right they should.

    March 31, 2010 at 5:36 pm | Reply
  68. Samuel A. Young

    Certainly in this and similar cases where students are driven to take their own lives - they should face criminal charges with prison time.
    Let these kids come out of prison with a felony record and have them forever live with this record as they seek an education and employment.
    Harsh treatment - yes, but they have to be accountable for such acts - not a slap on the wrist and they get on with their lives as though nothing happened.
    Sam Young.
    Californiia.

    March 31, 2010 at 5:45 pm | Reply
  69. Anne

    yes, bullying should be considered as a crime. I had been a victim bullying before in my office that almost end my life as it affected my health, emotionally tormented me. Thanks God i had been saved by a very good Human Resource professional who mediated and helped and further investigated the issue.
    bullying is a form of crime hidden in diffrent forms of agenda.

    March 31, 2010 at 5:58 pm | Reply
  70. Sheryl

    It staggers me that teachers would turn a blind eye to this. What s wrong with our society that we would allow a child to be treated this way. Pushed to the point of such despair that they feel the only escape is death! I can't even imagine the pain her family feels. All teachers and administrators involved should be fired and never allowed to work in the education field again. The kids involved should be prosecuted as adults to the fullest extent the law allows. I'm so sorry Pheobe for your pain rest in peace you deserved so much better.

    March 31, 2010 at 6:10 pm | Reply
  71. joann

    ABSOLUTLY,
    I reported the principal of the school where I worked for financial mismangement.

    She in term bullied me to the point where I felt threaten and became ill. The District did nothing to protect me or reprimand her.

    I lost my job, while on a FMLA (fired). I am still fighting and will not stop.

    Bullying is either unrecognized or ignored. Until stronger laws are passed and upheld, we will see more of this type behavior and aggression go unprosecuted.

    March 31, 2010 at 6:31 pm | Reply
  72. Devayony

    15 year old Phoebe was RAPED by 2 classmate boys and bullied by many, mostly girls! It was like WILD ANIMAL KINGDOM in their school.
    America has too much freedom.
    If the parents of the bullies had the right to paddle and punish their children at childhood, this would not have had happened.
    America has to acknowledge that the children are the property of the parents, rather than the property of the State.
    In all other countries, when children behave bad, parents severely punish them, sometimes paddle them. They will remember that on their whole life.Here in America, if you touch the kids, they have the right to call 911, and the parents may be put in jail.
    When the weed sprouts, we cut it off.or RoundUp. How about the weedy characteristics of our children?
    America, we need a reformation starting from the family for the formation of the good character of our children.
    Parents and State should not "play God". Children should not have the "FREE WILL" to do or not to do what ever they want. They can have it when they are adult, old enough to understand what is right and what is wrong. Then they will love and respect their pierce.
    from Houston, TX

    March 31, 2010 at 7:31 pm | Reply
  73. Angel Cole

    As an adult, if someone attacks me it's called assault. As an adult, if someone has sex with me without my permission, it's called rape. As an adult, if someone makes an untrue claim about me which defames my character, it's called either slander or libel. As an adult, if someone constantly follows me around, emails me, texts me, and calls me after I have asked them to stop, it is called stalking. As an adult, if someone is abusive towards me, consistently humiliates me, and constantly tries to reduce my self-esteem, it's called harassment.

    Why is it that the moment a child walks through the doors of a school, these same activities suddenly become "learning experiences" or "kids being kids"? Why is it that they suddenly become acceptable? Yes, these are behaviors that learned elsewhere. However, what are we teaching our children when this type of behavior has no consequences? It's too late for Phoebe Prince. Punishing her bullies will not bring her back. BUT, by punishing them we are sending a clear message to all that this will NOT be tolerated. It makes it quite clear that this behavior is not acceptable in society.

    We're not talking about 7-year-old children on a playground who are still trying to grasp social interactions. These are teenagers with the capability to say to themselves: "This is wrong." Or, barring that, they're able to say to themselves: "This will get me punished."

    So yes, I do feel the teenagers involved should be prosecuted.

    April 1, 2010 at 1:44 am | Reply
  74. sammieb51

    Yes, it should. However, it is sort of hard to punish kids for the same bullying tactics being used by politicians who seem to think it is OK to encourage hostile gun-toting crowds to stop cars with certain bumper stickers on them to ask them questions, have death threats leveled against legislators who vote against an uninformed minority, legislators are spit on ... and the bullies say 'nothing wrong here, just exercising our free speech rights', in the Name of God.

    Until we develop a more civil tone as a society (civility is learned in the home) .... but that would require parents to step up and quit blaming the teachers for their kids.

    April 1, 2010 at 3:08 pm | Reply
  75. kim cortex

    not a great idea of bullying anyone it feels great in doing so but the result in awful and never forgiving..........

    April 1, 2010 at 10:25 pm | Reply
  76. kim cortex

    the one who does it must be gone through severe punishment. Before that he/she must understand the result and must know how it feels when it happens with them. therefore no harm in future.

    April 1, 2010 at 10:28 pm | Reply
  77. Tubinaz

    After reading the above incident, I think it's something be saved earlier rather to come up in the end for prosecution.why in country like yours you can't handle the situations like that before hand .one must have a committee of students to ponder on these cases if happening freely. like if that one one was happening since 4-5 months,and the victim was so afraid to report,so where were the authorities ,staff,Principal,If tere would have a students'committe ,matter would would not have been worsen like that! Bullying should be discouraged with full strength before reaching to such deadlier end ,Ther will be no need of prosecution if you tackle the things earlier,as we must not forget the one who was bullied was innocent and the one who bullied is also innocent unless he/she can made able to differentiate between right and wrong.
    Regards,
    Tubi

    April 2, 2010 at 2:18 am | Reply
  78. elena

    Bullying is a form of terrorism to prevent someone from living their life free and in safety.As someone who was openly gay in high school in the 90's I know this is true.Thanks you.
    http://www.bilge-kagan.org

    April 3, 2010 at 2:39 am | Reply
  79. Patricia Backora

    Bullying is a CRIME! This crap wouldn't be tolerated in the workplace. Why is it treated so lightly just because the victims (and the scumbag criminals) are still kids? Bullying is character assassination of the worst form. Bullying leaves deep scars in the soul which never heal. Sometimes bullying leaves permanent physical damage. The effects of past bullying prevent adults from reaching their fullest potential in the workplace and destroys self confidence. Bullies should be PROSECUTED for civil rights violations, for character defamation, for harassment, and where applicable, assault with a deadly weapon (I was threatened with a knife and hit with a club on the bus.)
    The hogpen school I went to turned a deaf ear when I complained about past bullying, so they know where they can go!
    http://waronbullying.tripod.com

    September 10, 2010 at 1:23 pm | Reply
  80. Chris

    Those who bully and bully the victim to the point of suicide should be prosecuted and jailed. As a personal victim of bullying and curently still undergoing bullying i can strictly say that i believe they should be jailed. Bullying either happens from jealusy or for someone not immediately fiting in.

    October 1, 2010 at 11:56 pm | Reply
  81. bob chris

    I feel bad for her but I think she is a dummy for commiting sucidie

    March 9, 2011 at 7:17 pm | Reply
  82. annemay

    sucide is not the way to end your life you should seek for help and let your voice be heard. cause it will be worth it if she would of did that. life is to short for people to be ending there lives. life is just to short.

    December 10, 2012 at 2:18 pm | Reply

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