Punish Bullies AND Their Enablers

Nine teenagers have been charged in the death of a 15-year-old girl in Massachusetts. What are their crimes? Formally stated, they include assault, violation of civil rights resulting in injury, criminal harassment, stalking, disturbing a school assembly, and delinquency. In plainer words… bullying.

These students of South Hadley High School took it upon themselves to continuously and enthusiastically torment their classmate, Phoebe Prince, over a period of months. The constant barrage of verbal, physical, and cyber-bullying destroyed Prince bit by bit. Desperate for an end to their incessant cruelty, she escaped the only way she could. Her little sister found her body hanging in the stairwell of their home.

Bullying is about power, about gaining and maintaining dominance over someone through the use of terror tactics. It’s vicious, undeserved, and inexcusable. And in Northampton, Mass., that power struggle is beginning to be set right.

Bullying tears at the heart, the spirit, piece by piece. If left unstopped, it can lead to the annihilation of the one targeted. And in this case, even that wasn’t enough to stop the bullying. On the day they learned of Phoebe’s death, how did her tormentors react? They left sarcastic comments on her Facebook page.

And what about the teachers and staff of that school? The District Attorney in the case says that, during the investigation, it became horribly clear that many adults working in the school were aware of the pain and humiliation dished out daily to Phoebe by her classmates. And they did nothing to stop it.

This, to me, is an even worse crime than those committed by the students. There is no excuse for standing by and allowing an innocent child to be hurt. None. Surely, this school has safety procedures in place, precautions taken so that a stranger cannot barge in during the day, wielding an axe and threatening harm to their students. It is, after all, their job not just to teach, but to provide a safe environment in which all the students can learn. Why any of them would stand around and watch a group of bullies engage in such vile and destructive behavior, and choose to do nothing to stop it, discipline the perpetrators, or at least, protect the victim, is beyond me!

Those teachers and staff members who knew, but did nothing? They have her blood on their hands.

Tags: , ,

Leave a Reply